Domestic workers being worked to death in Lebanon

Dalila Mahdawi, 13/11/09

Four Ethiopian women are thought to have killed themselves in three weeks. Beirut must protect these women .They mop floors, take out the rubbish, walk the dog, buy groceries and care for the children, the elderly or disabled. Many a well-to-do and lower middle class Lebanese family relies on migrant domestic workers to take care of their household, but when it comes to providing for these women, not all return the favour. Migrant domestic workers — women who work as live-in or freelance housekeepers, cooks and nannies — form a vital presence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, where women’s increased participation in the workforce has not been accompanied by state-backed social or childcare services. There are thought to be about 200,000 women, mostly from the Philippines, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka, in Lebanon alone.