"Think about it, think about her": A campaign by KAFA targeting Lebanese employers

"Think about it, think about her": A campaign by KAFA targeting Lebanese employers

On February 1st 2018, KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation launched a media campaign* entitled “Think about it, think about her”* targeting Lebanese employers of migrant domestic workers (MDWs), as a continuation of its 2016 campaign highlighting employers’ perceptions of MDWs.

The new media campaign, supported by the Lebanese Ministry of Labor, seeks to open a constructive dialogue with Lebanese employers around a number of issues they usually face in their relationship with the domestic worker. For this purpose, KAFA chose three common scenarios inspired by the realities of the working relationship between MDWs and their employers, depicting them in three short videos that emphasize the situation of perplexity many employers find themselves in, mostly because of the sponsorship system and the burdens it imposes on them. This is the same system that is behind many of the violations against MDWs, and that shapes, to a far extent, the daily practices of employers and their general attitudes towards the workers.

The current campaign does not seek to portray a negative image of employers as being absolutely careless towards the worker’s well-being or as intentionally abusive. Instead, it shows them as confused employers who end up adapting to the existing structure and “doing what everybody does”, consequently perpetuating, knowingly or unknowingly, normalized illegal acts against MDWs and their deprivation of their human and labor rights.

KAFA hopes to see a majority of employers identifying with the three situations addressed by the campaign: the withholding of the worker’s passport, the non-payment of her salary, and the restriction of her freedom of movement. 

Ultimately, employers are invited to think about it (the situation) and think about her (the worker), and their attention is drawn to the fact that the common scenarios they see in the videos and visuals represent, in reality, unfair and illegal practices which they are encouraged to challenge. Moreover, KAFA calls upon employers to help end the aforementioned injustices by demanding to change the sponsorship system, protect domestic workers in the law, and to challenge harmful normative behaviors.

Hereunder we include quick figures and information related to each of the three scenarios addressed by the campaign:

It is illegal not to pay the domestic worker’s salary by the end of every month:
The standard unified contract signed by the employer and the domestic worker states that the employer has to pay the worker’s full salary directly to her by the end of each month. However, 40% of Lebanese employers do not pay the worker’s salary on a regular basis, and 41% of them paid the worker’s first three months’ salary to the recruitment agency.

It is illegal to withhold the worker’s passport:
The standard unified contract does not mention the confiscation of the worker’s identity documents. Also, the Lebanese Law criminalizes the withholding of another person’s legal documents and personal belongings. In spite of this, 94% of Lebanese employers said that they kept the worker’s passport with them, and more than half of those believed that the contract allowed them to do so.

It is illegal to restrict the worker’s freedom of movement:
Locking the worker inside the house, and therefore restricting her ability to move freely, is punishable by law. Yet, 22% of Lebanese employers lock the domestic worker inside the house.

* The media campaign is produced by KAFA in partnership with Anti-Slavery International and with the support of the International Labor Organization
* The data is taken from a national study published in 2016, conducted by the American University of Beirut, in collaboration with KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation and Anti-Slavery International, with the support of the International Labor Organization