The Golden Rule is a principle shared across cultures and religions, which is to treat others as you would want to be treated. Its application requires one thing, empathy.
However, having the ability to step into someone else’s shoes isn’t always easy. Otherwise, the world would surely have been a better place.
For instance, if you can come to see ourselves enchained by a system that deprives us of our human rights, aka treats us inhumanly, we could probably understand what migrant workers endure under the Kafala system in Lebanon.
After all, the Lebanese are constantly traveling abroad for work and by the hundreds of thousands. Same as these migrant workers seeking Lebanon for domestic work. What if our loved ones fall into the same trap abroad?
With that perspective in mind, the Lebanese organization KAFA created a brilliant video to help the Lebanese recognize the anguishing trap that is the Kafala.
At first, the video seems to be a normal phone call between a Lebanese man and woman. The man is simply sharing his concerns about traveling for a new job in a country where he doesn’t know anyone.
With valid concerns, he wondered if he would have good accommodation and if he would be allowed to move around, which is as much as domestic workers in Lebanon can hope for.
At one point he worried if his employers would take his passport to which the woman says, “They don’t have the right, you are not enslaved. You would file a lawsuit against them. These things don’t happen in advanced countries.” Yet that’s exactly what is happening in Lebanon.
“What if things didn’t work out, would I be able to break the contract or work for someone else?” he wonders in dread.
“Of course, there are laws to protect you,” she responds without hesitation despite that there is no such law in Lebanon. She added with a tone of sarcasm, “Do you expect to keep the same job for the rest of your life?” No, he shouldn’t, nor should the migrant workers who can’t break their contracts in Lebanon if things don’t work out.
“What if they didn’t pay me and threw me in front of the embassy?”
“These things don’t happen. You’re not migrating to be mistreated. You’re going to work with dignity like everyone else,” she reassures him with confidence while that is not what is being granted to the domestic workers in her country.
The irony goes even further. The woman is followed throughout the video and seen mistreating the migrant domestic worker in her employment.
The eye-opening scenes and the hypocrisy in the conversation compare the sharp differences between Lebanese working abroad and migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.
While a Lebanese person’s concerns can be resolved with the fact that their basic rights will be upheld and respected, that’s unfortunately not what we grant the migrant domestic workers under the inhumane Kafala system.
The video’s message is to remind people that “domestic work is work,” and that the Kafala in creating for these migrant workers the same situations we fear finding ourselves in when heading to work abroad.