Lebanon’s Migrant Domestic Workers: Between the Coronavirus and Slavery

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.

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