The article “Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: An unjust system, how should individuals act?” by Siba Harb is in the context of Lebanon and highlights about the exploitation of the domestic workers who work for Lebanese families. There are 200,000 people who are currently employed by Lebanese families; these people belong to the poor countries like the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and they are able to stay in Lebanon on a work visa. These people are mistreated by the recruitment agents in their home countries, and once they are in Lebanon, they are again mistreated in the form of non-provision of fair work rights by their sponsors. The author presents two options to prevent this exploitation; one is to stop sponsoring these people so that no one can exploit them and second is to sponsor them and sent humane working terms. The second argument as an option is much more logical and practical because people would be able to earn a decent wage without getting mistreated.
Lebanon is situated in the Middle East and is not a very prosperous country when it comes to economic and financial stability. The wealth of the nation is stagnated in a few hands, and these hands are responsible for running both the business and the government of the country.
The power distance in Lebanon is on the higher side which means that the less fortunate or, the less powerful have agreed upon and have accepted that they are inferior to those who rule over them and that they will always remain the same. The rich families in the country, however, are very fortunate to be living in a country in which there is little influence of law on the wealthy.
Introduction and Background:
The article “Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: An unjust system, how should individuals act?” by Siba Harb is based on Lebanon and details about the misuse of the poor domestic workers who work for the Lebanese people.
Difference in Rights of Workers:
The issuer of this visa is the sponsor, the family that is using the services of these domestic workers. The issuer also has the liberty to decide on the working terms with these workers as per their requirement and demand because the contract does not come under the labor law of Lebanon.
Hence, the rights reserved by the workers of this sort are not the same as those reserved by a local Lebanese worker. This includes the provision of a minimum wage according to the law and provision of safe and inhabitable living environment.
Role of Lebanese Families in the Issue:
Unfortunately, the Lebanese families do not make an effort in improving the lifestyle and compensation of these domestic workers. Because most of these workers are women, they are usually afraid of getting beaten up by their masters. Furthermore, they are very under-educated and hence are unable to manage themselves on their own in the unfamiliar state where they are reliant solely on their sponsor for everything.
Opinions Presented by the Author:
Option A by the Author:
Rationale Behind the Option A:
She believes that the inhumane treatment that is carried out towards these migrants while they are on their way is very heartbreaking as they are treated and transported like animals who fall ill and even die on their way due to poor conveyance methods. The recruitment procedures in the home countries of these workers cannot be stopped. These procedures are very dehumanizing according to the author.
These workers have to go through agents who carry out the activity of supplying these workers to Lebanese families. These agents mistreat these people in their home countries by asking them for money in exchange to preferring them to be sent to Lebanon. The people of these poor countries are in such bad shape that they find slavery in Lebanon as the best source of their income.
This is exploited by these agents as they make money from these people and send them to Lebanon where they are treated slightly better than slavery as per the author’s comments. According to her, if the people take the initiative and stop demanding these workers, then the inhumane activities cannot take place at the front or the backstage.
Option B by the Author:
Another option that she presents for stopping inhumane treatment of domestic workers in Lebanon that people can do on their individual levels is that they can employ these people to work in their homes but settle kind and relaxing terms with them that are at a humane level. This would mean that the pain that these people went through while in the recruitment process or that of traveling ends there.
Rationale of the Author Behind Option B:
The sponsor should set the wages and working rights of these people in a fair manner that they are the same and equal to the rights enjoyed by the local workers of Lebanon. This would enable these workers to spend a normal life that is less exploited and at a humane level. This way, at least the workers who have left their families far behind for little money can earn a decent wage to send back home and live respectfully.
Personal Argument to Resolve the Issue:
The option B presented by the author is a much more solid and very practical solution to this issue that can be done at an individual level. Although, the actions of an individual do not shift the tide of the entire society very quickly, but they do start making a difference. The people who find a need to employ a domestic worker can sponsor a worker from a poor country but settle good and fair terms with him or her so that he or she can make this opportunity worthwhile.
Why is Option B Preferable over the Alternative?
This argument is stronger as compared to the option one presented by the author because of its practicality. It can be argued that even of the demand is diminished and the people become aware and stop sponsoring these workers from overseas; the exploitation carried out against these people will only change shape.
Because these people have virtually nothing to do back in their own countries, refraining from sponsoring these people would seemingly be a further increase in the problems for these people as they would lose the only source of income that they might have. One thing that has to be understood here is that the people who work in Lebanese families are neither smuggled in nor are they there by force.
These are people who are willing to work as slaves in rich families’ homes so that they can earn a decent wage and send some livelihood back to their homes. Given the fact that there is such a condition of these people back home, it is almost inevitable that the agents in their countries that are already exploiting them would further keep on doing so.
In fact, if the Lebanese families stop sponsoring these workers, their wages would plunge even further because they would lose their demand and bargaining power. Therefore, it is a very impractical thing to do, to stop sponsoring domestic migrant workers in Lebanon. The best practice would be to keep sponsoring them but setting fair terms of working with them.
This would ensure that the migrants get paid a decent wage for their work, enough money that justifies their sacrifice that they have made in the form of staying away from their families and homes whilst working in other people’s homes as full-time employees. This is a practical thing to do for a Lebanese family that they take good care of the worker who is working in their home and that they pay them a decent wage.
They can also go the extra mile and occasionally help their worker in taking care of his or her family by providing financial help to the worker for their child’s education and for medical treatments. It is not improbable that the initiative taken by a single person cannot spread wide into the society.
When people notice positive behavior and treatment of a sponsor towards his or her worker from overseas, there is developed a tendency amongst the other people in the society that they can do good too. Hence, the entire society would gradually get encourage to have positive treatment towards these workers.
It is on the part of every person who lives in Lebanon and demands the service of a domestic worker from overseas that they establish fair terms of working with their workers and these terms should not be exploitative towards these people so that they can benefit from their initiative of coming to work from so far away.
There is nothing to lose for the Lebanese families who accommodate the workers of poor overseas countries in fact they can expect the vision of the entire society to change with the help of their initiative.