February 15, 2018
By Heba Kanso
BEIRUT, Feb 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It was Betty’s 22nd birthday when she landed in Beirut from Ethiopia with the promise of a well-paid job, but her dream of a better life ended when she found herself at the mercy of her employers.
Betty – whose name was changed for security reasons – is one of more than 100,000 Ethiopian migrants in Lebanon working under the kafala sponsorship system, which binds them to one employer.
Ethiopians are the biggest group of migrant workers in Lebanon where there are also more than 47,000 Bangladeshis and nearly 19,000 Filipinos, according to 2016 government data.
For two years Betty said she worked like a slave, facing sexual, verbal and physical abuse, until she managed to escape.
But her new-found freedom was not all she had hoped and for the past five years she has found she is still trapped, working without legal work and residency permits.
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