Lebanon’s demand for domestic workers from different nationalities (mostly Asian and African individuals that are still somehow referred to as Sri Lankiye) is huge.

We hire them to cook our meals, clean our houses, take care of our kids or most often, all three simultaneously. The way we, Lebanese citizens, deal with domestic workers varies from one house to another but most of us are guilty of human rights violations and in some extreme cases, slavery. The proof is the suicide rate of migrant domestic workers that’s alarmingly high. Since there are no efficient policies and laws to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, it’s up to us “the most progressive open-minded people in the Middle East” we claim to be to act by a moral code, starting with putting a stop to the following violations:

0. Physically, sexually, verbally abusing/ starving them.

I specifically called this point 0 since it’s the most important crime that needs to be stopped. Anyone who abuses (even verbal abuse is abuse!) housekeepers and workers is scum.

1. Not setting specific working hours and specific tasks.

The domestic worker is not your slave. You cannot exploit her and make her work every second she’s awake. Specify reasonable working hours and precise responsibilities for her, preferably before signing the contract to make sure she is okay with your terms.

2. Controlling what or how much they eat.

Who the hell are we to control anyone’s diet?! Stop using the excuse “we’re feeding her for free on our expenses” while feeding your domestic worker leftovers or just bread. “It’s surely better than what she ate back home”. No. You’re already paying her nothing compared to the work she does, the least you can do is treat her with dignity and care and feed her just like you would feed a friend or relative. I even heard of a family that locks the fridge so that the domestic worker wouldn’t eat without permission. And you call yourselves progressive?

3. Keeping them prisoners and not give them days off.

Most migrant workers live in the house of their employer, but it doesn’t make them the employer’s property. After the reasonable working hours you supposedly fixed, the woman who took care of you all day should be free to do and go as she pleases. Stop locking them inside your homes and start giving them at least two days off, you know, like the ones you enjoy every week.

4. Holding their passports

I would love to see your reaction if you ever go to work in Saudi Arabia and find that your passport is seized by your employer. But it’s okay for the Lebanese to do so with migrants from Africa and Asia “because they come from these countries of the world”, meaning third world countries. YOU ARE PART OF THESE COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD. Stop feeding your ego and sense of superiority by abusing women coming to work like slaves to feed their families. Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has very clean streets and a railway network. Where can you see that in Lebanon?

5. Refering to them as “taba3e” or “hayde”

These words we use are so degrading and disrespectful. Again, she is neither your property nor an object. Start adopting decent ways of referring to your domestic workers not just when talking to them directly, but also when referring to them in front of others. Many employers decide to give the domestic worker a new name just because they don’t want to bother memorizing her actual name.

6. Get mad when they don’t understand what you’re saying

Studies and research has shown that IT’S BECAUSE THEY DON’T SPEAK ARABIC. And when you try to impose your language like a colonizer and the domestic worker struggles to adapt to the new language, you get angry. Oh royal families of Lebanon (all families apparently) please forgive your servants for not complying with your rule.

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#4 is the real deal haha

Bismah BungBung on Oct 18, 2016 via mobile web
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Well said....hope that all lebanese employers must know all this things about domestic helpers...many are still not open minded when it comes to hiring a helper..and in lebanon are not following what is written in the contract..

Hanna Louise Mitra Ayson on Oct 18, 2016 via mobile web
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More people like you are needed to make this abuse stop. As far as no law punishable by a high fee is in place most won't change their despicable ways unfortunately.

Joanna Noujaim on Oct 18, 2016 via mobile web