Suicides of Ethiopian Maids in The Middle East
Posted by addisethiopia on December 5, 2009
A recent spate of suicides by foreign maids in Lebanon is prompting outrage among human rights groups, who say the government is doing too little to protect migrant domestic workers from severe abuse.
Over the past seven weeks at least 10 women have died, either by hanging themselves or by falling from tall buildings. Six of these cases have been reported in local media as suicides and four more have been described as possible work accidents.
An Ethiopian woman working as a cleaner in Lebanon told CNN by phone that she was sad about the recent suicides, and that she had a friend who killed herself several years ago, when she too was working as a live-in maid.
The abuse faced by migrant domestic workers is a common problem throughout the Arab Middle East, both because of generally poor labor regulation and also cultural prejudice.
The responsibility lies primarily with the state. There are no inspectors who can check on working conditions. The laws need to be modified.
The mistreatment of these women and the absence of any government protection is not just in Lebanon — it’s in all the Arab countries,
According to HRW, more than one third of foreign domestic workers in Lebanon are denied time off and more than 50 percent work at least 10 hours per day.
In North American and European cities, whenever the Ethiopian immigrant population reaches the 300 mark, it is natural to discover Ethiopian shops, Cafés, Restaurants and similar expressions of sociocultural dynamism. But, this is not the case in Arab cities, where hundreds of thousands of men and women Ethiopian origin live for decades, even centuries. The fact that nowhere in the Middle East, except in Israel, a single Ethiopian restaurant is to be found says it all on the degree of tolerance in that part of alienating world .