The "poor" Lebanese have maids from
In my last trip to
I have seen Lebanese drive in their Mercedes with the maid sitting on the floor of the back seat - not on the back seat itself, but on the floor where your feet usually go. You wouldn't catch a Lebanese with his or maid riding next to him/her in the car. They mostly have them ride in the back seat; but that is not enough for some deranged megalomaniacs: they have them sit on the floor of the car beneath the back seat, as a means to accentuate their own superiority.
I heard about 12-year old girls being imported from
These are the few stories we see and hear about. Can you imagine what lays beneath the surface? These deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. The physical and mental abuse, the rapes, and all the violence that is going on against the foreign maids in
The following is the Human Rights Watch report:
The high death toll of migrant domestic workers in
Since January 2007, at least 95 migrant domestic workers have died in
"Domestic workers are dying in
Interviews with embassy officials and friends of domestic workers who committed suicide suggest that forced confinement, excessive work demands, employer abuse, and financial pressures are key factors pushing these women to kill themselves or risk their lives. An official at the Philippines embassy told Human Rights Watch about one Filipina worker whose employers accused her of stealing a piece of jewelry. The employers beat her and locked her inside the house, he said. She ended up committing suicide.
Other suicide cases point to financial pressures faced by these workers who are not entitled to the minimum wage in
"These suicides are linked to the isolation and the difficult working conditions these workers face in
A 2006 survey of 600 domestic workers in Lebanon conducted by Dr. Ray Jureidini, of the American University in Cairo, found 31 percent of the women saying that their employers did not allow them to leave the home.
Many domestic workers who find themselves locked up attempt to escape through balconies or windows. Since January 2007, Human Rights Watch has compiled 24 cases of domestic workers who died as a result of falling from a high-story building. In eight additional cases, the worker injured herself but survived the fall. "Many domestic workers are literally being driven to jump from balconies to escape their forced confinement," Houry said.
While police reports usually classify cases where domestic workers fall from balconies as suicide, this classification is highly suspect. Human Rights Watch interviewed two domestic workers who had fallen from balconies but survived the fall. In both cases, they stated that they were trying to flee employers who either had mistreated them or locked them in. Kamala Nagari, a Nepalese national who injured herself on February 20, 2008 while trying to escape, told Human Rights Watch from her hospital bed: "I was locked in for two days, and they [the employers] did not give me food and water. Then after two days, I wanted to run away. The apartment was on the fifth floor. I tried to go down using cable wires running along the wall of building. The cable broke, and I do not remember what happened afterwards."
Officials working at the migrants' embassies echoed this finding: "Most deaths resulting from a building fall are failed attempts to escape," a labor attach told Human Rights Watch. A former ambassador put it more bluntly: "Don't call this an embassy. We have become a funeral parlor. People die. Natural deaths, accidents, suicide. When they try to run away, accidents happen."
Lebanese police generally investigate death cases but interviews with lawyers representing domestic workers and officials working at the migrants' embassies as well as a review of investigators' notes in three separate police investigations reveal many flaws. First, the police do not always investigate whether the employer mistreated the employee, and when they do, they limit themselves to general questions and accept the employer's testimony without cross-checking their statements with information from neighbors or the family of the domestic worker. Second, in cases where the domestic worker survives a fall, police often interview her without the presence of a translator and generally ignore the motives that led her to escape. "When employers lock someone up inside a home, they are committing a crime and the police should treat it as such," Houry said.
Human Rights Watch urged the official steering committee tasked with improving the status of domestic workers, which includes members of various relevant ministries, the police force and certain international organizations and NGOs, to begin tracking cases of such deaths and injuries, to ensure that the police properly investigate them, and to develop a concrete strategy to reduce the deaths of domestic workers. This strategy should include combating the practice of forced confinement and improving working conditions and labor law protections.
Human Rights Watch also urged governments of migrants' countries to increase the services at their embassies and diplomatic missions in