According to the foreword letter written by Abella ( 2002 cited in Jureidini, n.d, p.4) the international migration papers decided to investigate and make research available on different issues such as international world migration programmes, the conditions of employed migrant, the impacts of state decisions on migration and the treatments of this domestic migrants in foreign countries. The migration for job seeking started in 1975, underworld employment programme (ibid p.4). The major aim of this studies was on how to manage labor migration by looking at originating countries of employees, to meet certain requirements such as creating stable jobs for both the citizens and immigrants and by so doing, they both have equal opportunities and equal human rights. The report was based on the research conducted by the international labor force with a focus on migrant domestic workers in different locations of the world. From the research conducted most of the high number of domestic workers who left their families and homeland to a foreign land to do domestic work were women. It was noted that the main reason or purpose was on how to make a living, so they can be able to take care of their respective families. Notwithstanding that some of these domestic workers had good reputable jobs in their homeland, some still decided to settle and work as a domestic help in a foreign land why, because of money and the high demand of the job to be performed especially by women in these countries seeking domestic help. These women only have working opportunities in the household, domestic service, private households so they settled to do domestic work. They ended up most times being exploited due to the fact most that of them are illegal migrants and have no sufficient labor protection internationally as a foreigner. The height of it all is that most of them are were exposed to high vulnerability such as physical abuse and ill-mannered treatment etc. which cannot be compared to other international workers doing other respected jobs such as banking, office work etc. This study by (ibid p.4) points out things that are the causes of the high vulnerability of this female domestic workers r in Lebanon and it also highlights ways to enable effective action to be taken to fix this issue. This research seeks for a solution to this problem by involving all the policymakers and everyone concerned to find a solution by providing good alternatives and enhance the working conditions of these women who are doing these domestic chores or help. It seeks for means or ways to create a legal means in hiring domestic help. The study pinpoints legal evaluation of the administration in the recruitment of domestic workers, conducting interviews with key people in the labor congress with full acknowledgment of labor, border, immigration etc.(ibid p.4). Additional the study examines the job of a non-governmental organisation in providing good legal protection for this domestic worker.
1.2 Recruit of domestic workers:
Preliminarily to the civil war, Lebanese families recruited young women, notably from poor homes or from Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. They were recruited from the age of 10 and left when they are ripe for marriage. The parents of this underaged domestic workers only visited once annually to take earnings. Moving further, after the civil war the women now felt that this treatment is so degrading (ibid p.6) and they won’t accept it anymore. The reasons were not just because of money, but rather there was a racial discrimination related to working as a domestic help. Moving on, a question that should be answered is, how are these domestic workers been recruited and how do they now migrate to Lebanon to do domestic work? (ibid p.8). let’s look at the recruitment process or rather the means of employment. It can be noted that before for a house helper to be brought into Lebanon, to be able to work and make a living, she needs an invitation from Lebanon. This is done through an agent, the employer or it can also through a direct employment. After they have gotten the visa, the domestic helper’s touchdown Lebanon with a 3 months eligible working visa priority put together by the sponsor or the agency responsible and on the visa, the personal details of the employee will be clearly and visibly written. In Lebanon, it is stated that about 150 agencies are responsible for the recruit of these domestic workers and they also have the license to do so which have been provided by the ministry of labour (ibid p.8). However, there still exist is a small group of illegal agencies, who do the domestic employees paperwork illegally. The legal agencies are by law meant to pay annually a sum of thirty-five thousand dollars to the government for them to be able to bring in these workers. Another interesting fact is that Some women in their countries go as far as paying their agencies to aid them migrate to be a foreign worker in a foreign land, however, the amount they pay is still yet unknown because the prices are not fixed. Most of these people who cannot afford this fee sometimes borrow to pay and occasionally will now be in a lot of debt to be people such as their family members, banks, so-called loan sharks whom they took money from. (ibid. p.4) some even go as far as selling their personal belongings to be able to afford this migration fees. Agency fees vary by country to country e.g. Sri Lanka 200 dollars, African countries 2000 dollars. These agencies proclaim that these fesses cover all the travel expenses such as flight etc. (ibid p.8). However, the fee and cost of these so-called agents vary because there is little price regulation or measures in all the above-mentioned countries. (ibid p.9).
1.3 Classification of domestic workers, job conditions, and treatment
Now, what are the categories of domestic workers? let’s analyze or take a look to understand the different categories of the domestic house helps. This female house helps in Lebanon are grouped into 3 categories namely “live-ins”, “freelancers” and “runaways” (ibid p.9). Live in, are that domestic help who live with the host family or family they work for. They live with them for about 2 or 3 years. The host makes sure that all the finances are covered which includes a work permit, health insurance, shelter, clothing and food and importantly the air cost to go back to their home countries when their job is over. These hosts have the full right to control the employee’s movement or whereabouts. They go as far as keeping or hiding the passport of these employees. (ibid p.9). These make it hard for the employee to leave the country. So all the decision is taken by the employer such as making sure that her permit is renewed. The domestic worker cannot even change employer if she wishes to. However, The employer can change his or her mind after 3 months and fire the employee or terminate the contract when he or she pleases. A good question to ask her will be, How can the employer do all this?. The employer can do all those because he or she has the support of the agency that hired the domestic worker before she arrived in Lebanon. These are the live-in category of domestic workers.
The second category of domestic workers, the freelancer’s have little or less control. They live on their own, they have the sole freedom to stop delivering services, the can also decide to stay in Lebanon after contracts expire and be in control of labor. The freelancer must always have a lawyer for backup reasons and work according to the law. Which makes it easy for some Lebanese men to take advantage of these as a business opportunity and charge this freelancer up to 1200 dollars to be their sponsor for them to stay in Lebanon. If you are lucky you get a good one if you are unlucky, then you meet the bad sponsor and he will take your money without doing anything or even help you to get the required documents or papers. It is really hard to take a legal action against your sponsor because most times the freelancer domestic worker cannot even prove to prove that she paid the so-called sponsor (ibid p.10). These are the freelance domestic workers.
Runways, the last category of domestic workers are the ones that were previously working as live in but because of the ill-mannered treatment from their boss or employer which such as abuse and withholding of payments (ibid p.10) they made up their mind and left their employers which then resulted to them leaving the house of their employers and becoming homeless. They seek shelter in consulates, non-governmental organizations, etc. By law, Lebanon has codes and contract obligations so as soon as the domestic worker leaves her host, the domestic worker is automatically by law registered as an illegal migrant. These are the runaway categories of domestic workers. Now how are domestic workers treated in Singapore? Let’s take a look.