END KAFALA: JUSTICE AND DIGNITY FOR MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS IN LEBANON
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We call on the Lebanese authorities to end the kafala system and extend labour protections to migrant domestic workers.
Lebanon is home to over 250,000 migrant domestic workers (MDWs), who come from African and Asian countries and work in private households. The vast majority of these workers are women.
All migrant domestic workers are excluded from the Lebanese Labour Law and are governed instead by the kafala system, which ties the legal residency of the worker to the contractual relationship with the employer.
Amnesty International’s report entitled “Their Home Is My Prison” demonstrates significant consistencies in the types of abuses towards MDWs. These include extreme working hours and lack of rest days, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and communication, food deprivation and lack of proper accommodation, verbal and psychological abuse, and physical violence. In addition, Amnesty International documented cases of abuse by recruitment agencies, forced labour and human trafficking.
The main legal document that outlines the rights and obligations of domestic workers and their employers is the unified standard contract, introduced by the Ministry of Labour in 2009. The contract prevents the employer from forcing the worker to work outside the home; restricts the maximum number of working hours to 10 a day, with at least eight continuous hours of rest at night; entitles the worker to a 24-hour weekly rest period, paid sick leave and six days of annual leave; requires the employer to pay the full salary at the end of each month with receipts of payment signed by both parties, to purchase health insurance for the worker and to allow her to receive calls and to cover the cost of one phone call to her parents per month. Despite setting out these basic rights, the unified standard contract has numerous shortcomings that leave workers at risk of exploitation and other abuse. In addition, the vast majority of domestic workers aren't provided documents in their language therefore they sign a contract they don't understand, aren't aware of their rights and at last are disregarded by authorities.
Kafala system, is a neo-slavery, inhuman and racist system that needs to be abolished!
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