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This blog is dedicated to women from Sri lanka and Ethiopia working as domestic workers in Beirut, Lebano
n. These women take upon themselves great voyages to foreign countries in the hope of a better future. Their courage and endurance is outstanding.

As time passes, the issues covered in this blog have expanded to cover other kinds of specific women's work like sex work, historical ways of describing the plight of women: white slavery, human traffic or modern slavery as well identitarian politics and gender...

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5 janvier 2007 5 05 /01 /janvier /2007 21:23

Antislavery International, 2005

Lebanon is a destination country for trafficked women for domestic work from Asian and African countries. Various reports also mention women trafficked for sexual purposes, mainly from Eastern Europe. The country is to a lesser degree also a transit country, particularly for African women trying to get to Europe. The exact numbers of women trafficked into are not known.

Lebanon does not have legislation concerning trafficking in persons. As far as international instruments are concerned, has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO C29, C111 and C95, but has not ratified ILO C97 and C143. It has not ratified the ICCPR nor the ICESCR, nor the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and members of their Families, nor the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The Lebanese Government has taken steps to address the situation of exploitation of migrant workers, particularly as regards raising awareness. It has produced information booklets aimed at migrant workers on legislation, rights and obligations in the country as well as on practical information about available assistance. The Ministry of Labour has taken several measures against employment agencies. 11 were reportedly closed on the grounds that they had mistreated workers and engaged in fraudulent practices. The Ministry is also responsible for complaint procedures and reportedly dealt with 35 contract disputes between employers and employees. Of these, 23 were resolved in favour of the workers.

The country still does not have a unified and transparent system of contracts between employers and employees. Developing one is a key aim of newly established working groups of NGOs, academics and state officials. With regard to assistance, services provided by NGOs are increasingly available. In 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Lebanese Government and ICMC and Caritas was signed for both NGOs to run a shelter for trafficked women in . Reportedly, the authorities of are starting to refer the trafficked women to the shelter. Government officials have taken the positive step to grant those recognised as victims of exploitation temporary permits to stay in the country for up to two months, to assist in the investigation and eventually to take legal action against their employer. It has not been reported, however, how many persons were granted such a permit and how many of them took a legal action and/or got compensation. Nor was it known to the TPO at the time of writing, whether the practice is institutionalised, who has access to such a permit, and under what criteria. NGOs such as PCAAM provide valuable services to all migrant workers and run various types of counselling for migrant domestic workers, including legal counseling during visits to detention centres, where many runaway domestic workers are held. Also, the staff of embassies and consulates of countries of origin in spoke of improved access to detention facilities.

In terms of access to justice, there is not much progress. During 2004, no abusive employer was prosecuted despite available evidence. It has also been reported that the vast majority of the migrant workers generally do not get any compensation for basis lost income, unpaid wages or harm suffered. The authorities continue to treat workers who run away from their abusive employers, as illegal migrants and detain them. The law enforcement, however, introduced a new mechanism into investigations. Now, a social worker can be present when the police question a migrant worker. NGOs have expressed concerns about this. Migrant domestic workers, for example, are not always informed about this an option and the issue of trust needs to be addressed, as the social workers are not seen by the migrant women as independent from law enforcement.

There are 394,532 Palestinian refugees in , and the civil war and Israeli invasions have caused the internal displacement of some 300,000 people.

The Ministry of Labour is responsible for labour and employment affairs, including labour inspections, regulation of employment agencies and complaint procedures.

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for immigration affairs and criminal affairs.

Trade unions are active in the country, but not actively involved in the issue of migrants.

The Beirut Bar Association is best positioned for legal review and analysis.


Services provision

The Pastoral Committee of Asian-African Migrants (PCAAM) helps detained women obtain valid documents, retrieves passports from employers, contributes financially to expired work/residency permits and repatriation, PCAAM also provides legal aid, medical treatment, and contacts diplomatic representation and families of prisoners.

The Afro-Asian Migrant Centre (AAMC) helps detained women obtain valid documents, retrieves passports from employers, financially contributes to expired work/residency permits and repatriation, runs a shelter, provides social counselling, welfare and pastoral care, broadcasts radio programmes, establishes contact with diplomatic representations and families of prisoners, and provides free education for children of migrant domestic workers.

LAKSEHTA provides services mainly for Sri-Lankan women. It helps detained women obtain valid documents, retrieves passports from employers, financially contributes to expired work/residency permits and repatriation, provides medical treatment, shelter, contacts diplomatic representation and families of prisoners.

The International Catholic Migration Committee (ICMC) in co-operation with Caritas Migrant Centre helps detained women obtain valid documents, retrieves passports from employers, provides legal and social counselling, financially contributes to expired work/residency permits and repatriation, provides legal aid and medical treatment, contacts diplomatic representation and families of prisoners.

The Caritas Migrants and Refugees Centre assists migrants and refugees experiencing social and economic difficulties. It provides financial, legal and logistical help for all destitute, sick and vulnerable people wanting to return home. On resettlement, it provides administrative assistance and follow-up for those who want to live in a third country (such as or ). It also provides medical care and follow-up through Caritas’ medico-social centres and/or medical insurance that covers hospital care. It also provides free legal counselling, assistance and

follow-up. It helps migrant and refugee children in public and semi-public schools, and raises awareness among Lebanese communities about the situation and living conditions of migrants and refugees in the country. The Caritas centre also provides emergency humanitarian assistance to families such as food and clothing. It encourages migrants and refugees to form committees and groups with the aim of promoting self-sufficiency and mutual assistance. Caritas also helps, as far as it can, with social and legal follow-up for all foreign prisoners.


Research and advocacy

The Lebanese NGO Forum aims to bridge relations with the Lebanese governmental institutions within the context of the governmental and non-governmental sectors complementing each other. Being the representative of an organised segment of the civil community in , the Forum works to be a constructive and efficient partner in building a modern state through dialogue and interaction among citizens and government, and in defending the interests of the underprivileged in Lebanese society. Research: MigrantWorkers in , Young, M.; Lebanese NGO Forum, 1999.

The PCAAM Committee is intensively co-operating with lawyers, active civil society and, where possible, state institutions. The research: Afro-Asian Migrants in Lebanon, Report of the Committee on Pastoral Care of Afro-Asian Migrant Workers, McDermott, M.J., PCAAM, 2003

Frontiers is working on the issues of non-Palestinian refugees and has expressed urgent need for in-depth research into their living and working conditions in .

Researchers at the American University in Beirut, particularly Dr. Ray Jureidini and Nuala Moukarbel, have been doing pioneering work on the issue of migrant domestic work.


Below are some indicative recommendations for initial steps for donors and international agencies:


! Research concerning all migrant workers in Lebanon and assessment of the magnitude of trafficking of them would be a useful step. Important research work has been done in this respect by the researchers of the American University in Beirut. It would be useful if they could lead on the methodology and supervision of future research work on trafficking in .

! Research in detention centres is needed focusing on current practices and identifying ways to improve access to justice for abused workers, who become illegal due to their visa having expired or their passport having been confiscated.

Awareness-raising and prevention

! Support for activities raising awareness directly in migrant communities and encouraging self-organising and selfsupport of migrant workers would be helpful. Groups such as PCAAM have extensive experience in this area and could be good partners for such an activity.

! It would be useful to support raising awareness about the unacceptability of forced labour and servitude among the general public. The group of NGOs currently active on the issue in Lebanon would be probably good partners.

It is also crucial that the Lebanese Government endorses the awareness raising.

! There needs to be more awareness-raising among officials, such as law enforcement, immigration authorities, labour administration authorities through seminars, workshops or others form of information-sharing. It would be useful if the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior and NGOs could jointly develop ways of raising awareness and collaborate on implementing these.


! It would be useful if the Lebanese stakeholders could develop an advocacy strategy, which would include but would not be limited to the following:

! Ensuring that any strategy against trafficking focuses on human and labour rights and does not hamper migrant workers’ access to employment

! Ensuring that migrant domestic workers are recognised as workers and have labour rights as such

! Ensuring that migrant workers who are victims of a crime have access to justice, including compensation, irrespective of their immigration status

! NGOs such as the Lebanese NGO Forum, PCAAM, ICMC, CARITAS, Frontiers and others could potentially be advocacy partners. A useful first step could be a strategy meeting, possibly also with activists from other Middle Eastern countries, which would aim at developing a joint strategy.


! It would be helpful to support and broaden the already existing assistance, and seek ways to institutionalise practices such as the temporary permit to stay. The support to direct services provision is crucial.


From: Trafficking in women, forced labour and domestic work in the context of the Middle

East and Gulf region

Working paper

Anti-Slavery International, 2005



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