The Kefala system is disgrace for humanity. Everyone knows it even those who operate it. They know it but do not care about it. Should they when millions of dollars enter the domestic labor sector from known and unknown sources of funding? These vulnerable people are simply lured into a vicious cycle with no prospect of escape.
A domestic worker in downtown Beirut, Lebanon
I could say that domestic labor is a new form of human trafficking. Domestic workers are everywhere especially across the Middle East, mainly in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. This form of labor, largely unrecognized in Lebanon, has turned out a ‘fashionable’ trend in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Such labor refers to the idea of elite class in society since the rich use the services of domestic workers.
Walk in downtown Beirut for a moment and you will soon realize what I am talking about. Whenever you see children around, domestic workers from Ethiopia, Philippines or India apparently take care of the youth. Nothing wrong about that some might say…No, it is wrong, the entire system is wrong…due to the plaguing role of the Kefala sponsorship or the modern word for slavery in the Middle East.
Immigrant domestic workers lack basic rights once they fall in the trap of inhumane labor, which keeps them away of their families. Employers hold their miserable monthly salaries of $100 or $200 and exploit them in any possible way, either physical or psychological. This often ends in fatal incidents, as those with a fragile psyche cannot handle the pressure and commit a suicide.
Amid so much pain and social injustice, I cannot remain indifferent and would ask a normal question in a world of abnormalities: When would this stone-age practice of the Kefala system end!? Give those poor souls in search for survival basic rights. Do not exploit them, do not humiliate them…do not forget we were all equally created when we came to this world. It is pity to observe animals in human skin and these are all who support that outdated, shameful system.
The so-called rich people, who hardly imagine their lives without ‘servants’, should feel ashamed for their actions. They are perpetrators of crimes against domestic workers scattered in the oil-rich Gulf countries and in turbulent Lebanon. What kind of personal example do they show to their children? They raise a generation of arrogant cowards with no values and sympathy.
A domestic worker in Lebanon
The idea of recruiting household or child-rearing assistants can be good only if used legally. Someone with the ambition for a high social class cannot exploit domestic workers. The problem goes back to mentality of show off practices in the Arab world. I like Lebanon, but I dislike walking in places where the streets could talk and share the sadness inflicted on thousands of immigrant domestic workers.