A shocking video shot by Lebanese media, LBC, in which a group of Lebanese thugs were seen publicly abusing an Ethiopian woman in broad daylight while indifferent onlookers ignored the woman’s plea for help. LBCI reporters have identified the animal seen in the video footage, via his license plate number, as Ali Mahfouz but no action have since been taken against him.
“The Arab, Ali tried to justify his act by denying that he beat her; he stressed that the woman tried to commit suicide more than once and that he tried dealing with her humanely, but she refused to go to the airport for deportation,” he told the TV station.
In the disturbing video, the helpless Ethiopian woman was repeatedly heard pleading for help, but not one person from the Arab onlookers were willing to come to her aid. The video has angered many in the African community who are demanding justice even reprisal.
According to media reports, the Lebanese government giving lip service to the outrage have condemned the act and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Africans in Lebanon and other Middle East countries constantly face harassment and abuse at the hands of their employers. But a public display of their abuse is rarely seen.
This disturbing video of an Ethiopian woman being violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon, appears to have caught the Lebanese media and authorities by surprise.
For many Ethiopians, however, the incident is the latest example of the prevalent culture of violence against female Ethiopian migrant employees in many Middle Eastern countries.
“It is time to end the unchecked exploitation of migrant women in the Middle East,” said Ms. Zewditu Fessehaa,” Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee, ESAC, in New York City. ESAC recently hosted a public forum to highlight the plight of Ethiopian female domestic workers in the Middle East.
“As the world can see from this video the treatment of domestic workers by Arabs in that part of the world is inhumane, barbaric, unjust and must be stopped,” Ms. Fessehaa said.
“The scenes of the Ethiopian domestic worker being beaten outside the Ethiopian consulate were considered as a crime by all those who saw them,” reported the Beirut based broadcaster LBCI. “The Lebanese state mobilized its efforts, especially the cabinet and the Lebanese public opinion that strongly denounced what happened, calling for harsh sanctions against the perpetrator of such acts in the future.”
Labor Minister Salim Jreissati told reporters that the Ministry of Labor “decided to take the necessary measures to punish the perpetrator who turned out to be an employee in the domestic workers’ office. Jreissati said that the ministry summoned the domestic workers’ office for an urgent meeting on Monday, adding that a formal complaint will be registered.”
In New York, Ms. Fessehaa said she is urging everyone to speak out on behalf of the workers. “Men or women, it is time to break the silence on this urgent crisis,” she said. “We need to demand that our women are treated with dignity and humanity.” She added: “We need to start thinking about alternative solutions to the larger problem that continues to lure them to unsafe work conditions in foreign lands. This issue must be permanently solved.”
As for Chakib Kortbawi, he told reporters that this act cannot be justified, adding that justice will be served and that the public prosecution launched an investigation in this case.
The Ethiopian Consulate’s employees also said that this type of abuse by Arabs is routine in the Arab world. They called on the Lebanese authorities to interfere and protect Ethiopian nationals.
Caritas identified the Ethiopian worker, stressing that they were following up on her case since she was admitted in Deir el-Salib hospital two weeks ago.
This Ethiopian girl may be lucky that pictures of her were taken while being abused, but many other domestic workers are being beaten and abused and even murdered behind closed doors.