In Lebanon, with a population of about four million, about 100,000 are said to be international migrant workers of Sri Lankan descent. The majority of these workers are women who work as housekeepers for Lebanese families. In order to pay off a family debt or help their families, these women, many of whom are from rural areas, leave behind their families and their children to work in Lebanon. However, as soon as they arrive in Lebanon, their passports are seized by their employers; they get locked up in the homes when their owners leave the house; and they have to work from morning till night for less than 200,000 won a month. The number of women who undertake risky ventures or even commit suicide in order to escape the abuse and violence of their owners, which includes rape, is said to increase every year. However, even if they succeed in escaping their employers, because of their confiscated passports and the exorbitant sums of money that they are said to owe for having broken their contracts, they have no choice but to become illegal residents, who wander within Lebanon. Lebanese director Dima Al-Joundi declares these indentured forms of labor to be a modern-day form of slavery. Yet, it is highly doubtful whether Sri Lanka, which views the foreign employment of its female citizens as another export commodity, and the Lebanese government, which benefits from this cheap labor, are engaging in any sincere efforts to protect the human rights of these women. The inhumane and irrational system of slavery has long been abolished. It is only fair that this modern-day slavery, occurring under the indifference of the exporting country and the complicity of the receiving country, should also be immediately abolished. (Billy Choi)
Dima Al-JoundiDima Al-Joundi
Born in Lebanon in 1966. Left Lebanon in 1984 for Belgium, where she studied script writing and editing at the INSAS. She worked mostly in editing from 1988 for TV dramas, documentaries, commercial ads, and features in Belgium. Between Us Two… Beirut(1993)was her first directorial film. She has since directed and produced a number of documentaries and docu-fiction works. She is a director of Crystal Films, a distribution company for Mediterranean and European films, and a director of Beirut International Film Festival.