Lebanon was on the way to implementing a new system that would have paved the way for putting an end to the notorious “kafala” sponsorship system. However, a Lebanese court just took that progress back to square one.
The State Shura Council just suspended the implementation of a standard employment contract system that would have guaranteed and protected the rights of migrant domestic workers.
The court ruled in favor of an appeal filed by recruitment agencies that opposed the new contract system, presented two months ago by caretaker Labor Minister Lamia Yammine, solely because it would harm their interests and profits.
In addition to suspending the Labor Ministry’s reformist move, the Shura Council also issued a decision on the percentage of deduction of migrant domestic workers’ salaries, according to Al-Akhbar.
With the dollar shortage in Lebanon, migrant domestic workers see no point in remaining in a country where they cannot get paid in the currency they were promised.
However, under the restrictive kafala system, they have no choice to leave without their employer’s consent, which is in essence modern-day slavery.
Over time, the kafala system has been seen to provide cover to abusive employers and cause immense suffering to foreign workers.
Domestic workers can be subjected to discrimination, neglect, abuse, at the hand of their employers and recruitment agencies – who can easily get away with it.
More than ever, there are calls for the urgent amendment of Lebanon’s Labor Law to include migrant domestic workers, to ensure their rights are protected.