Thursday, 28 March, 2013
It starts with the name “Sri Lanka” service, as if domestic workers (or rather people in forced labor in Lebanon) is a Sri Lankan service. It’s as if we call this trade the same way we call tissue papers “Kleenex”, as someone with many Sri Lankan friends and co-workers, I find that ignorant, to say the least, if not morbidly offensive. What’s worse, is that most of the employees advertised are not from Sri Lanka…
One of the horrid crimes committed is withholding domestic workers’ passports, effectively trapping them into their extremely low-paying jobs. This page has gone one step further and made their employees’ entire persoanl information public, on Facebook, including names, passport numbers, addresses and biometric data which I have taken the liberty of blacking out (except one of the first names, which I found painfully ironic: Cinderella)
As a Lebanese person, this really bothers me. It’s as if these people are products “Should I get One?”, seriously? And their salary is lower than my mobile phone bill and I’m in the segment of the population which cannot afford to hire domestic workers, so imagine how painfully low their salary is for all the hours, work, and often humiliation and abuse they endure thanks to bad employers.
The saddest part is that this is completely normal for many people, heck, that “agency” considers this page its official business page. I cringe every time I see arriving domestic workers being herded by the General Security at the airport, treated differently from every other arriving passenger, foreign, Arab or Lebanese. We’ve done a few strides in the right direction, and there are somesafeguards now in place. But they are nowhere near enough to the basic standards we can accept as human beings. Regardless though, the problem still lies in the mindset, and a good portion of the Lebanese population needs to start treating these people like what they are: human beings with rights same as anyone else’s.
Of course, when compared to the abuse, both physical and verbal, the rape, the unfit working conditions that lead almost one foreign domestic worker a week to commit suicide in Lebanon, this page seems quite petty to rant over. However, this page is “out there” for everyone to see, unlike the abuse that often happens behind closed doors (but not always) which you are lucky enough not to witness first-hand (I hope) and the fact this is considered completely ok by many, even laughable according to the (I’m assuming) sarcastic comments, is scary.