Lebanese stage "die-in" for migrant workers

Activists outside the Ministry of Labor (Photo: Anti-Racism Movement)

Published Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Lebanese rights group staged a"die-in" outside the Ministry of Labor on Saturday to call on the government to improve Labor laws for migrant workers.

Activists laid on the street covered by sheets with fake blood, while another held a sign that read "the sponsorship system kills a domestic worker every week."

In a report released by Human Rights Watch last month, the organization said during the period examined there had been an average of one death a week due to unnatural causes among domestic workers in Lebanon.

Activists outside the Ministry of Labor, the sign reads "The sponsorship system kills a domestic worker every week" (Photo: Anti-Racism Movement)

Ali Fakhry from the Anti-Racism Movement said the system whereby migrant workers are dependent upon a "sponsor" to earn a living was leading to the deaths.

"The sponsorship system allows the employer to control all aspects of their life: from the day off to their legal existence in Lebanon."

"We are demanding the Lebanese government and specifically the Ministry of Labor, remove this unjust system for another system."

An Ethiopian woman committed suicide last month only weeks after a video emerged on the internet of her employer dragging her away from the Ethiopian embassy by the hair.

Fakhry said the case of Alem Dechasa showed the dangers of abuse for migrant workers.

"You can see Alem's case, she was obliged to return home (to Ethiopia) and she had debt and she decided to kill herself rather than return home," he said.

"It is an example that is still fresh in the minds of Lebanese, if there was not the sponsorship system she could have stayed in Lebanon."

Hundreds of activists and migrant workers are expected to march on Sunday in support of the cause.

(Al-Akhbar)

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