How internet price hikes are endangering Lebanon’s kafala workers

How internet price hikes are endangering Lebanon’s kafala workers

  • Published on
    October 4, 2022
  • Written by:
    Monica Burns
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery, Technology & Tools
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The 95% drop in value of Lebanon’s currency has taken its toll on migrant workers, leaving many unable to cover basic living costs. 

Now that internet prices are set to double, migrant rights organizations and activists are concerned about what further isolation could mean for the safety of migrant domestic workers. 

The kafala system 

Under the exploitative kafala system in Lebanon, migrant domestic workers’ visa and legal status are tied to their employers. In practice, this empowers employers to exploit domestic workers and subject them to conditions amounting to modern slavery because they know that migrant domestic workers are unable to leave without risking detention and deportation. 

Cutting off the lifeline provided by internet 

The expected hike in internet costs will likely cut these workers off from support, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation.  

Activist Salma Sakr of the anti-racism activist group ARM tells The New Arab: 

People don’t consider how things like rising internet rates affect marginalised groups, but it is really a life-or-death situation. We used to think that at least we could contact workers at home but now that 4G has been cut off live-in workers are completely isolated.

Migrant domestic workers have already been among the hardest hit by Lebanon’s financial crisis. Rising prices of internet and sim cards mean they are less likely to be able to source employment and contact NGOs for support, such as legal advice.  

Take action today 

Together with partners, we are calling on the Ministry of Labor in Lebanon to be transparent on policies regarding migrant worker wages and rights. We urge Lebanon to demonstrate progress in protecting migrant domestic workers’ rights by ensuring workers’ immigration status is not tied to their employers, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation and domestic servitude. 

Join us by signing the open letter today.  

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