May 01, 2006
Further on migrant labor: Lebanon
Went to a lecture and discussion by Tina Naccache, a woman who works with migrant laborers, and especially female maids, in Lebanon, sponsored by nahwa al-muwataniya. I'm just going to drop some sketchy notes here. The lecture and discussion were in Arabic so I might well have misunderstood some things.
1 - The Lebanese law covering foreign workers (as opposed to non-Lebanese Arab workers) dates back to the 60s. To get a work visa there, you need to be sponsored by a specific employer. If you wanted to change employers, you'd have to leave the country and come back again, starting at square 1.
2 - Foreign embassies are for the most part utterly useless. In a lot of cases, the person in charge of the embassy isn't even a national. In any case, the governments that send these workers are usually much more interested in getting the remittances than in taking care of their nationals once overseas.
3 - During the question time, one guy complained that his family's maid had run away and taken $200 with her. Ow. He was well-ventilated thereafter - Naccache said, "look, she has the $200, and you have her passport and her papers, and there's no way that she can get out of the country without those. You've got your teeth in her throat, and you want me to feel sorry for you over $200?" Only at much greater length, and in Arabic, and with superior use of sarcasm.
4 - Used to be, domestic servants in Lebanon were young girls from either Syria or the sticks (Akkar, other outlying parts of Lebanon). In the 50's and 60's, people started bringing in Egyptian maids. Non-Arab foreigners started being brought in in the 70's - she said the first group were from the Seychelles, I think, though I wouldn't swear to that. She also said she knew one Sri Lankan woman who had been in Lebanon since 1978. (EDIT: She knew a woman who claims to be the first to have been the first to import Sri Lankans, starting in 1978. Oops.)
5 - (EDIT: Pursuant to a convo with Ms. Naccache, there is no point number 5. I substantially misunderstood what she was saying. Mea culpa.)
6 - Domestic workers and agricultural laborers are covered by different sections of the labor law than all other workers. I didn't catch precisely what those differences entailed.
Posted by tomscud at May 1, 2006 05:02 PM
Filed Under: Levant
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Depends on its precise function in Lebanon, but national police, or just police. Something equivalent of the American FBI.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 1, 2006 06:49 PM
A lot of "African" families (Lebanese who established roots in W. African countries) bring over African girls. I've been told they prefer the very young ones so that they can be "properly trained." Do you recall her including any information about child labor?
I was told by an in-law that there was a short period when may women from "Russia" (I was later informed that they were usually from former soviet republics) were being brought in.
Posted by: UmmAli at May 1, 2006 10:49 PM
UmmAli: She didn't say, other than that the "local" maids back in the 60s were generally underage.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at May 2, 2006 03:55 AM
In its original meaning, the Surete in Paris was a detective organisation, with some spook/internal security functions. The organisation was exported to France's colonies, where it took on more of the latter.
Posted by: Alex at May 2, 2006 04:49 AM