Humiliation and Abuse in Lebanon’s Kafala System

Lebanon’s kafala system provides citizens with migrant household labor, though its critics say it’s more like slavery. Workers have virtually no rights and must often endure hunger, beatings and humiliation. The economic crisis could change this.Read More

A garbage bag and some clothes. That’s all she was able to pack when she fled. “I didn’t have access to my suitcases, and I had to be quick. My madame was only out for a moment,” says the 27-year-old from Ghana, for whom we’ve chosen the alias Vanessa to protect her identity. She is relating the story of the evening in late 2019 when she escaped her tormentors in Lebanon. Her getaway taxi was waiting outside.

Vanessa spent four months with a Lebanese family in the coastal town of Byblos, she says. “I had to sleep on an air mattress in the living room. I was only given one meal a day.” Soon she was cleaning not just the house, but also the company’s offices too. “I worked from 6 in the morning until 10 at night, seven days a week. I was as skinny as an invalid and in constant pain.” Instead of the agreed-upon $300 (266 euros), she only received $200 a month. “And in the end, they didn’t even pay that,” she says.

English | July 6, 2020



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