Two Kenyan domestic workers were assaulted in a mob attack caught on video in broad daylight in Lebanon.
The footage shows a man in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud holding two Kenyan women by the hair, repeatedly hitting them as they scream in pain. Incredibly, a crowd them gathers and others join in attacking the women.
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The victims, Rosa and Shamila, were arrested after the assault, and this week the Lebanon’s directorate of general security issued a deportation order against Shamila.
Nermine Sibai, a lawyer representing the two women, said, “General security issued a deportation order for my client, Shamila, in violation of her basic human rights of a fair trial and to defend herself in court.”
The Guardian reports:
The incident and subsequent fallout has drawn attention to the mistreatment of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, where employment laws for foreign workers have been likened to modern-day slavery.
An estimated 200,000 migrant domestic workers live in the country. Most come from Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Kenya, to work as live-in maids.
Rights groups blame the high levels of abuse on the kafala (sponsorship) system through which migrant workers are employed, and which ties their legal status in the country to their employer.
“It gives employers enormous power over the worker, and opens the door to exploitation and abuse,” according to Bassem Khawaja, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The Kenyan government has demanded an apology from Lebanese authorities over the attack.
Notably, Salim Jreissati, Lebanon’s justice minister, called the attack “shocking” and “abhorrently racist and different from the Lebanon people’s manners.” The minster also asked the general security agency to settle the victims’ residency status, but his request seems to have been ignored.
Amnesty International criticized the deportation orders against Shamila, but says this is a pattern of abuse in Lebanon.
“The decision by the general security to deport the Kenyan woman who was brutally assaulted in Bourj Hammoud reflects the injustice faced by migrant domestic workers in Lebanon,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“Whenever they seek justice, they are faced by deportation orders.”
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