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
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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.


Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

Updated 22 min 38 sec ago
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Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

  • According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children
  • 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since conflict began

LONDON: A Syrian journalist has claimed on his YouTube channel that he has been assaulted and beaten by Turkish forces on the Syria-Turkey border.
Mazen Al-Shami posted a video to the social media network and also posted on Facebook, saying: “After nine years of the revolution, that is how my family and I are treated.
“A Turkish officer tortured me in front of my family and tortured my children on the Syria-Turkey border, it was his reaction when he found out I was a Syrian journalist.”

Mazen Al-Shami was visibly distraught in the video. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Al-Shami ended the post with the hashtags #Thank_You_Turkey and #Thank_You_Hotel_Opposition with a number of photos containing the injuries sustained by him and his son as a result of the assault.
According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children along with other civilians as they tried to cross the border into Turkey from the Syrian Idlib region.

Al-Shami proceeds to show wounds he says he received at the hands of Turkish forces while trying to cross the Syria-Turkey border. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Association of Syrian Journalists, which represents journalists opposed to the Bashar Assad regime, quoted Al-Shami as saying: “The opposition did not respond to my request to enter Turkey for a follow-up to my medical treatment.”
The association added that Al-Shami was beaten and severely tortured with “metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools.”

According to the Association of Syrian Journalists, Al-Shami was tortured with metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Hundreds of Syrian activists have responded to the incident, saying the officer responsible must be held accountable and that the Turkish army is constantly targeting civilians trying to cross the border from Syria.
In a recent report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since the start of the country’s ongoing conflict.