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Launching of two reports on the situation of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon
KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation in cooperation with the Institute of Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) and the Institute for Migration Studies at the Lebanese American University (LAU), launched on March 30, 2011 at LAU, two reports on the situation of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon: Trafficking of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: A Legal Analysis , by Kathleen Hamill, and An Exploratory Study of Psychoanalytic and Social Factors in the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers by Female Employers in Lebanon, by Ray Jureidini.
The two reports are part of the project “Multimedia Virtual Space for Human Rights” funded by the European Union, and carried out by the Italian NGO COSV in partnership with KAFA, Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) and Centre Libanais des Droits de l'Homme (CLDH).
The launching kicked off with welcoming notes by Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, Director of IWSAW, who said that “the institute is particularly proud to launch these two important studies, because they deal with an area of human rights which has not attracted enough attention from policymakers and society at large: the plight of foreign women who are recruited or trafficked into Lebanon, and who face discriminatory treatment, both culturally and legally.”
Ms. Cecile Abadie, Head of Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, underlined that "both reports highlight the need to develop rights-based government policies concerning migration with a holistic approach taking into account the social and cultural characteristics that contribute to the vulnerability". She added that "these reports provide valuable information on the social integration of migrants and their working conditions, which are part of a continuous dialogue on human rights between the European Union and Lebanon. In this framework we hope these reports will constitute a useful tool for the Lebanese authorities. We also encourage Lebanon to implement the UN Protocols against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons".
The Head of the Trafficking and Exploitation Unit at KAFA, Ms. Ghada Jabbour, highlighted the importance of the two reports in identifying social and structural causes behind the plight of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. Jabbour stressed that the findings of the reports, which build on existing research, will help KAFA and other civil society actors, as well as decision-makers in determining future actions and policies to combat trafficking and violence.
Kathleen Hamill, activist and lawyer, presented the findings of the report “Trafficking of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: A Legal Analysis”. The study analyses the international legal definition of human trafficking and several types of exploitation (i.e. forced labor, domestic servitude, slavery), and the application of these definitions within the context of Lebanon. The report's findings demonstrate that the sponsorship system, recruitment process and lack of legal protections in Lebanon contribute to migrant domestic workers’ vulnerability to human trafficking. Hamill concluded her presentation with a few key recommendations, including the reform or abolition of the sponsorship system, as ways to decrease domestic workers’ vulnerability to labor exploitation and human trafficking.
Dr. Ray Jureidini presented the findings of the second report “An Exploratory Study of Psychoanalytic and Social Factors in the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers by Female Employers in Lebanon”. The study seeks to provide some preliminary answers to why some female employers abuse the domestic worker, while others do not. It highlights several factors such as the female employer’s childhood experiences, her feelings towards her gender, marital relations and the patriarchal pressures that place full responsibility on women to manage the household and maintain a high level of order and cleanliness. These add additional layers to explanations of employer violations and abuse in combination with social structural factors, such as the regulatory framework and social pressure to deal with domestic workers harshly. Dr. Jureidini recommended more targeted awareness raising campaigns that take into consideration psychological and psycho-social factors, as well as structural reforms, including greater oversight over private employment agencies and legal action against abusive employers. These reforms will hopefully limit cases of abuse and reduce migrant domestic workers’ vulnerability in Lebanon.
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