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Journal article

"The Paper that You Have in Your Hand is My Freedom": Migrant Domestic Work and the Sponsorship (Kafala) System in Lebanon

Date

2013

Authors

Amrita Pande

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that the portrayal of violations of MDW rights as abuse of one set of women by another is inherently problematic on several fronts. It privatizes the structural problem of workers' and immigrant rights violations, delegates it to the household, and absolves the state of its responsibility. Moreover, the focus on abusive employers takes attention away from teh root of the problem - the inherently exploitative system of migration and recruitment in the region, the sponsorship system. The sponsorship system not only creates conditions for much of these violations, but also systematically produces a new population of readily exploitative worker - the category of "illegal workers". Oral histories and interviews with individual workers are employed to analyze the process by which illegal workers are "produced" in Lebanon. Finally, focus group discussions highlight critical policy recommendations made by the workers themselves, which address the systemic bases of their exploitation in Lebanon.

Journal title

International Migration Review

Volume

47

Issue

2

Page numbers

414 - 441

Publisher

University of Cape Town

Economic sectors

Occupations in services - Domestic work

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Researchers

Geographical focuses

Regional relevance

Languages

English