Yesterday (November 29th 2016), the Lebanese Ministry of Labor shut down 171 domestic worker recruitment agencies and suspended 23 others as part of an ongoing investigation.

The illegal agencies that were shut down did not belong to the syndicate, and did not adhere to many of the labor laws imposed by the ministry.

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We’ve all heard absolute horror stories about the treatment of domestic workers at these agencies; there are instances of abuse, exploitation, and violence - but before anyone jumps out to protect the one agency they know that doesn’t do this, we’ll throw you a bone. Some agencies are respectable establishments that treat employees and domestic workers very well. But the truth is that many don’t.

In fact, many migrant workers are deceived about their work and living conditions in Lebanon., with important information either hidden from workers, or brokers and agents providing them with false information. This imbalance in the relationship between the employer and the worker (in favor of the employer) opens the door to abusive and exploitative practices by both the employer and these agencies.

It’s good to see that recruitment agencies, entities that have held a bad reputation for so long without notice, are finally being held accountable for their illegal and cruel behavior.

Though we cannot change people and the way they treat domestic workers, we can change the laws and make sure that it is very difficult for people to be cruel and racist.


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