‘They threw me like garbage’ – Dozens of Ethiopian maids dumped outside Beirut embassy

Mildred Europa Taylor June 22, 2020
Dozens of Ethiopian maids dumped outside embassy in Lebanon. Photo: BBC

More than 100 Ethiopian domestic workers have, over the past two weeks, been sleeping on the street outside the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, after being abandoned there by their employers who can no longer afford to pay them.

Lebanon is currently facing an economic crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the country’s currency losing 70% of its value in the past six months, a report by The Telegraph said. Prices of basic goods have increased, unemployment figures have gone up and people are no longer able to save, the report added.

The middle and working-class families say they can no longer pay the salaries of their domestic workers, mostly from Ethiopia.

“I was thrown on the side of the road like a piece of garbage. I am not garbage, how could she do this to me?” said Aseem, a 20-year-old Ethiopian maid who hasn’t been paid for seven months. 

Aseem and scores of migrant domestic workers were left to make ends meet outside the embassy that has been closed. Last week, the first group of 35 women who were abandoned at the embassy was taken to an NGO-run shelter. Since then, more have been arriving at the embassy, dropped off by their employers. Some were later taken to an informal refugee camp, where 35 will be sharing one living room.

The Ethiopian embassy is yet to comment on the issue as the premises remain closed. At the moment, some employers are also sending back their domestic workers to the employment offices that provide these foreign domestic workers.

Abaeba, who was thrown out recently, told The Telegraph: “They hit me in the face and threw me out to the street. Then they threw some money at me for a taxi and told me to come to the embassy. It’s normal that they hit us at the office.”

Farah Salka, Director of Lebanon’s Anti-Racism Movement, told the BBC that these domestic workers, many of whom can’t even have their passports back, exist outside the labor laws with no employment rights or protection. “This system enables modern-day slavery in our houses,” she said.

Arab countries have been accused of racism time and time again, with roots traced as far back as the Arab slave trade. Blacks have been treated abhorrently as slaves and even after being freed, they still suffer in the hands of Arabs in and out of the continent.

Black women, however, suffer even more because they are women and they are black. Most of these women, usually in these Arab countries for work, are treated terribly, deprived of food, sexually assaulted, beaten up and even burnt.

Their search for justice is usually met with fierce resistance mainly because their passports and other vital documents are confiscated by the employers once they arrive in the houses to work. In other cases, the employers are protected by the police and other authorities, making it hard for these domestic workers to report their bosses.

Even with the news about the horrors African women face, countries like KenyaUganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia still transport workers to the Middle East.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: June 22, 2020


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