In part 2 (part 1 here), recorded on March 26th 2020, I spoke with Banchi Yimer, founder of Egna Legna who define themselves as “community-based feminist activists working on migrant domestic workers’ issues and general women’s issues in Lebanon and Ethiopia.” She spoke to me about the Kafala System, the impacts of the economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic on migrant domestic workers in Lebanon as well as her ongoing trauma after working in Lebanon for seven years.
Yimer recently wrote a piece for The Public Source entitled “The Lebanese Revolution: A New Chapter of Kafala Misery“. Among their activities are various workshops teaching various skills to domestic workers in Lebanon, financial assistant, educational videos, establishing shelters, legal assistance as well as a brochure of Lebanon’s bus map in Amharic, Ethiopia’s dominant language. They also take part in the relevant demonstrations, such as the yearly Labor Day organised with the Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon. Their partners include the Anti-Racism Movement, the Feminist Network, the Knowledge Workshop, KAFA, The A Project, Rootslab, the Legal Agenda and Oxfam.
They seek to, among other things, have the Lebanese government include domestic workers in the country’s labor laws (they currently are excluded), as well as fight gender-based violence and racism. To put it mildly, their work is very difficult, so I urge you all to check out their work and support what they do. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Egna Legna also recently interviewed Ghina from the Lebanese feminist NGO KAFA in English.
- Life for Lebanon’s migrant domestic workers worsens amid crisis by Aya Majzoub (2020)
- On Engna Legna: “We do not want other women to suffer through what we have experienced”
- In-depth analysis: Seven Ethiopians die in Lebanon as new Ethiopian Consulate policy abandons citizens to their fate by Zecharias Zelalem (2019)
- My two recent pieces calling on the Lebanese revolution to include the abolition of the Kafala system in its demands, on Al Jazeera and Addis Standard (2019)
- Modest archive of Kafala-related pieces on my previous blog ‘Hummus For Thought’ between 2012 and 2018
- The ugly face of the kafala system – The Beirut Report (2018)
- Slave labour? Death rate doubles for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon by Alice Su (2017)
- Lebanon Deports Prominent Unionist, Testing Migrant Workers’ Resolve by myself and Elias Abou Jaoudeh (2016)
- An ignored but active union: Minister of Labor Sejaan Azzi has yet to allow the union of domestic workers to be registered by Marie Kostrz (2015)
- Understanding Kafala: An archaic law at cross purposes with modern development by Priyanka Motaparthy on Migrant-Rights.org
- Lebanon: Recognize Domestic Workers Union, Add Labor Law Protections for These Employees by Human Rights Watch (2015)