Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 00:17 AM EDT, 21 March 2012
BEIRUT, Lebanon – An Ethiopian domestic worker, Alem Dechasa, was taken to a psychiatric hospital following an attempt by a group of Lebanese men to kidnap her outside the Ethiopian embassy.
First aired by Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI), the video shows Dechasa lying on the ground, crying while her employer Ali Mahfouz’s repeatedly tries to drag her toward a waiting vehicle.
Asaminew Debelie Bonssa, Ethiopian general consul in Lebanon, told The Daily Star newspaper that Dechasa subsequently committed suicide by hanging herself, despite expressing a desire to return to Ethiopia.
The barbarity of the ill-treatment of migrant workers throughout the Middle East has been of grave concern to human rights watch groups. Many of these workers are in effect indentured servants who are treated more like slaves than domestic help.
Immigrants from Africa and Asia, come to Lebanon seeking opportunities to improve their lives but quickly become disillusioned. They discover that despite promises, Lebanese laws do not protect their rights, and as second class citizen’s they are not guaranteed basic healthcare, vacation, or equitable wages.
Additionally, because the sponsorship system ties the domestic worker to one employer, unscrupulous people can keep workers in bondage by withholding their passports, visas, and work permits ostensibly for ‘safe keeping.’
Rola Abimourched, program coordinator at KAFA (Enough) Violence and Exploitation, spoke passionately about the Dechasa incident. We hope that this case may become the catalyst that galvanizes the Lebanese government to introduce stronger laws to protect migrant workers and other immigrants to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.
- Protecting Ethiopian Women in a Middle East: Advocacy Task Force Initiative (ethioandinet.wordpress.com)
- Ethiopia: Outrage Over Abuse of Ethiopian Domestic Worker in Lebanon (ethioandinet.wordpress.com)
- Maid Commits Suicide After Attack Video (theroot.com)
- Lebanon: The pang of Alem Dechassa (ethioandinet.wordpress.com)
- Ethiopian woman who was abducted, beaten on viral video hangs herself (twitchy.com)
- Ethiopia sues Lebanese man over beating of domestic worker (danielberhane.wordpress.com)