Alem Dechasa, a domestic worker out of Ethiopia, took her own life just days after a video surfaced of her being beaten and forced into a car in Beirut, Lebanon. The disturbing video brings to light a human rights issue that has been largely ignored in Lebanon. The abuse of migrant workers, particularly women, is an epidemic that is largely ignored and swept under the rug.
Recently, as many as eight civil society groups appealed to Lebanese authorities to adopt labor laws to address the increasing number of abuse that have been committed against migrant workers. The footage was shown on Lebanese news and showed Dechasa being physically assaulted by a man while a second assailant dragged her into a car. The attacker was later identified as the brother of the head of a migrant worker recruiting firm.
The recruiting agency alleges that they were trying to bring her back to Ethiopia due to her mental health issues. Dechasa was later found by police who brought her to a detention center. From there, she was transferred to Deir al-Saleeb psychiatric hospital for evaluation. It was at this location that she took her own life.
At this point, no arrests have been made. Civil rights groups have since been urging Lebanese officials to condemn such human rights violations that have been occurring against migrant workers like Dechasa. While her case drew national attention due to the video, there are hundreds of more cases of migrant workers being brought over to work as maids who are abused on a daily basis. It is a serious problem that is not getting the level of outcry that it needs.
Migrant workers are currently not covered under Lebanese labor laws. This is something that human rights groups are addressing at the moment. Hopefully, something can be done before another worker turns up dead.