Foreign domestic workers in Lebanon protest abuses

Migrant domestic workers carry placards during a protest in Beirut on Sunday, to call for the abolishment of the sponsorship (kafala) system. (AFP)
Updated 05 May 2019
0

Foreign domestic workers in Lebanon protest abuses

  • Domestic workers are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship
  • Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers

BEIRUT: Hundreds of foreign domestic workers demonstrated in the Lebanese capital Sunday to demand the scrapping of a sponsorship system that they complain leaves them open to abuse from employers.
Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers, the vast majority of them women, from countries including Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
They are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.
The protesters marching in Beirut held up placards reading “No to slavery and yes to justice” and “Stop kafala.”
“We want the cancelation of this system. There are employees imprisoned in houses and they need to have days off,” Dozossissane, a 29-year-old Ethiopian, told AFP.
Lebanon’s labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language many cannot read.
Activists regularly accuse the authorities of failing to take claims of abuse seriously, with maids, nannies and carers left at the mercy of employers.
Amnesty International last month urged Lebanon to end what it called the “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system and change the labor law to offer domestic workers more protection.
A report from the rights group that surveyed 32 domestic workers revealed “alarming patterns of abuse,” including physical punishments, humiliating treatment and food deprivation.


Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019
0

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”