The story of migrant labor has two polar opposite faces in Bangladesh—one is the “success story” of hard-earned foreign exchange being sent back to the country by our dedicated migrant workers, keeping their families afloat and propping up the economy as well. The other side of that story is one of vulnerability, exploitation and the dehumanising of migrant workers, turning them into products for sale in a market where the cheaper the cost of labor, the higher the margin of profit.
hilippines President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his call for the abolition of the kafala or sponsorship system in Gulf countries, saying it was “unjust” and permits the “exploitation” of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
My parents, both full time workers, it was difficult for them to raise 2 children on their own. Thus, in 2005 (I was 2 years old my brother was a couple of months old), Didi (the nanny) became part of our family. She was a filipino in her early twenties who came here to support her family financially.
Son mujeres valientes porque, a pesar de vivir en una sociedad dominada por las leyes de un sistema islámico patriarcal que las maltrata, las viola, las vende, las esclaviza o las mata, saben cómo organizarse para luchar por su libertad. Un machismo violento y mortal en pleno siglo XXI que combaten con conocimiento, armas, arte y redes de apoyo clandestinas.
It is not an easy task to write about the history of organizing by migrant
domestic workers in Lebanon during the nineties.1 The “archive” of this
struggle, an important source for historical writing that could illuminate
radical moments from the past to support intersectional struggles in the
present, is elusive and incomplete.2 Even if archival documents were within
reach, however, they could only lay claim to history fragmentarily, long after
heroines had disappeared—and they haven’t seized to be present.3 The first is
Malini (Mala) Kandaarachchige who arrived in Lebanon from Sri Lanka during
the civil war, labored in domestic work, and organized the Sri Lankan
community surrounding Dahr el-Souane around mutual aid praxis in the
nineties. Difficult material conditions forced educator and longtime community mobilizer Gemma Justo out of her home in the Philippines and into postwar Lebanon where she spent more than two decades initiating repatriation
processes, advocating on behalf of migrant domestic workers, and contributing to transform the local feminist movement. Then at the close of the nineties, missionary Aimée Razanajay gave up a more privileged life in Madagascar and came to Lebanon as a domestic worker. Dedicating her resources, she organized through the church to repatriate Malagasy domestic workers enduring exploitation and abuse. However diverse their strategies may have been, these women were notable makers of that decade’s organizing history.
The kafala system regulates the lives of tens of millions of migrant laborers in the Middle East, but growing outrage over human rights abuses, racism, and gender discrimination has fueled calls for reform.
The committee also urged Lebanon to amend its legislation to ban racist hate speech against migrants and refugees, and to intensify its efforts to cooperate with Internet service providers and social media platforms to curb the spread of racism and offensive messages online. Expressing its concern about refugees, in particular Syrians, who have been victims […]
Lebanon, stuck perilously in an unfortunate geographical location, plagued by poverty, economic warfare, inter-sect animosity, and now a global pandemic, regrettably has yet another problem; its infamous kafala system. This long-running system has allowed abuses of migrant domestic workers for such a time that it has become almost second nature to many families to ‘own’ a maid. Many of these workers have been forced to hand over their passports indefinitely to underhanded employers who have no interest in protecting their rights. Many are subjected to physical and emotional violence, unpaid overtime and no days off with no repercussions on the employers from an apparently unaccountable government. The kafala sponsorship system currently accommodates 250,000 foreign workers, who are legally bound to their employers and unable to leave their work without ‘permission’. Now, in the midst of an economic crisis, a post-explosion emergency and a global pandemic, many of these workers have no way out, and at dire risk of abuse and exploitation.