Today, Lebanese made a big discovery. A life-changing discovery.
It all started with an SMS. An ad actually. One these annoying SMS ads that keep beeping on our phone all week long, from morning to evening.
This ad reads: “For Mother’s Day indulge ur mom & offer her a housekeeper. Special offer on Kenyan & Ethiopian nationalities for a period of 10 days”.
Someone took a screenshot and posted it on social media. The photo went viral and in a few hours it became the talk of the nation. Lebanon woke up to a harsh reality: in this very civilized country of ours, housemaids are treated like products.
Shock. Outrage. Ya mama.
Strangely, most of the people that expressed their disbelief on social media have a housemaid and know perfectly how this whole business works. They know that these women and these girls are not allowed to keep their passport. They know how they are treated from the moment they land in our beautiful international airport until the moment they leave, if they ever do. They know about the racism, the abuse, the suicides.
They know of the companies that make money out of this human trade. They had to deal with one them to get their own maid, didn’t they? They most probably know about the different websites and Facebook pages that advertise these companies’ services, some in the most horrendous way, like posting a picture of these workers passports, in complete violation of their privacy.
Most of these people were living in Lebanon when, a few years ago, a domestic worker called Alem Dechasa killed herself. They expressed the same outrage back then. Then forgot all about it.
To be fair, it was on March 14 2012. An eternity by Lebanese standards.
Today, the fair citizens of Lebanon are in shock. Tomorrow they’ll forget. Until the next SMS or the next suicide.
We should seriously think of replacing the cedar in our flag with a little red fish. You know the one that has a three seconds memory span.
© Claude El Khal, 2015