Ali Hammoud, his wife Fatimeh, and young son live in Sidon. Ali works for Electricité du Liban. His wife is a school teacher and therefore out of the house most days. Ali, on the other hand, only works two days/one night per week. That meant he was home alone with the Ethiopian domestic worker a lot. The worker says that he raped her multiple times, including once in his wife’s village when they were there for a family wedding.
The employee asked her employer, and the employment agency, multiple times to be able to leave, but she was not allowed; she alleges that her employer and the agent knew each other.
“I was working in the kitchen and he grabbed me. I tried to fend him off but I couldn’t…He choked me and squeezed by breast. It was very painful…He said I’d have big problems if I told anyone.” - Domestic Worker for Ali Hammoud
For 10 months she says she was repeatedly raped. She asked to leave, but was told she wasn’t allowed by both her employer and her agency. She had nowhere to turn; her agency and employer knew each other, and she was afraid that if she complained to the agency she would be harmed further by Ali Hammoud.
Then she found This Is Lebanon’s Facebook page and we were able to advise her on what to do. Just days after her escape on 15 May 2018, she was able to travel back to Ethiopia – but without any justice.
In Lebanon it is almost impossible for a migrant domestic worker to take her rapist to court.
Making this video allowed her to go home with the feeling that she had received some justice. Her face is hidden because Ethiopia is a ‘shame culture’ and she did not want her family to know what she had suffered in Lebanon. It is her hope that following the publication of this video, Ali Hammoud will not be able to do the same thing to her replacement.
This Is Lebanon hopes that it will serve as a warning to other Lebanese men who are tempted by the presence of the vulnerable domestic worker locked in their house. No longer will these rapes be hidden. When these stories have gone onto the net in the past, the rapist’s face has been blurred, the name left unsaid. No more. Enough rapes.
Testimony from the Video
“He raped me again in the village, in my madam’s sister’s house. Everyone went to a wedding but my mister stayed home alone. I wasn’t expecting it but he locked all the doors and came to me. Like the other times, he choked me.”
“It was really, really difficult. Sometimes I wanted to die and thought about committing suicide.”
“I only told my sister. We discussed what I could do and I realised I couldn’t do anything.”
Full Video Testimony
“Once my mother was sick so I told them I needed to go home but they told me I couldn’t leave. They took me to the agency and I told them too. The agency also said I couldn’t leave. I was scared because the agent and my employer knew each other. I didn't tell the agent about the abuse. Because I was afraid they’d harm me when I went back. But I told them he was harassing me.
He raped me again in the village, in my madam’s sister’s house. Everyone went to a wedding but my mister stayed home alone. I wasn't expecting it but he locked all the doors and came to me. Like the other times, he choked me. I couldn't escape. Whenever he came, he choked me and warned me not to tell anyone. Sometimes he was looking for an excuse to beat me up and the madam would hold him to stop him.
The madam doesn't know about this, I didn't tell her. I was scared she might hurt me so I kept quiet. Most Ethiopians who come here are suffering. I wish everyone would stop coming to this country. I don't want anything. I just want to go home. There was not enough food. Sometimes I was very hungry. When I was starving I ate bread. When she came home she checked the fridge and would say “Where is the bread I bought yesterday?” I kept quiet. There was no food in the fridge. If she cooked, she would eat with her son and give me a small amount. I was hungry every day.
The madam is a teacher and wasn't at home. The mister works for the electricity company. He works once per week. He sleeps overnight there and comes back the next day. The rest of the week he’s at home.
It was really, really difficult. Sometimes I wanted to die and thought about committing suicide. It was so difficult. The moment she left the house, my suffering started.”