CSO HRW Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon
Oct 05 2010
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Lebanese families employ an estimated 200,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Nepal. These women typically migrate on short-term contracts and are obliged to live in the home of their employer as a condition of their work visa, sending much of what they earn to family or loved ones back home: for example, migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Lebanon sent more than $90 million overseas in the first half of 2009. The domestic worker sector is rife with complaints of nonpayment of wages, excessive working hours, forced confinement, and even physical and sexual abuse-fueled by Lebanese labor law that excludes MDWs from standard labor protections afforded to almost all other categories of workers, such as the right to a weekly day of rest, paid leave, benefits, and worker compensation. Desperate, some try to run away, often with serious consequences: Human Rights Watch documented an alarming number of deaths of domestic workers, primarily from suicide or from risky escape attempts from high stories of residential buildings. Lebanon's judiciary has both the potential and obligation to play an important role in protecting the basic rights of MDWs. However, this potential has so far remained unfulfilled, and the judicial system remains, albeit with exceptions, largely inaccessible and unresponsive. More information about human trafficking on the website of HRW.