TenTwelve, which stands for December 10, the international Human Rights day, is a campaign designed to raise awareness about migrant domestic workers’ rights in Lebanon, focusing specifically on some Lebanese’s inhumane and racist behavior vis-à-vis their employees.
Discrimination practices have been around for a long time in Lebanon and remain widely present today, particularly visible against the 250,000 foreigners coming from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh and a few other countries. These people, mainly women, are looked at in a derogatory way by the Lebanese society at large. The domestic workers are not admitted under Lebanon’s labor laws, and therefore suffer from the lack of legal protection. They are employed by private agencies without any monitoring by the Lebanese authorities, resulting in their status and general conditions being controlled primarily by their employers. Many NGOs focusing on the protection and empowerment of these migrant women in Lebanon have been trying to raise awareness for several years about the sponsorship system by pointing out its negative consequences. In this campaign however, the aim is to push people to firstly start changing their own practices in order to eliminate the discriminatory relationship between themselves and their domestic employees. The pre-campaign research about the issue of migrant domestic workers revealed a lack of knowledge as well as false beliefs amongst the Lebanese, formulating the campaign’s primary goal: To inform the Lebanese public about these women’s real living situations through a set of data and reported stories of abuse. In order to provoke and create the desired impact, the campaign’s approach consists of presenting this information through a particular visual scheme that reveals the physical and mental pain many of the women go through as a consequence of not being paid enough, fed well, given a day off per week, as well as being locked in, unable to communicate with others, working long excessive hours, being verbally, physically and sometimes even sexually harassed, murdered or driven to commit suicide. The campaign targets and highlights the Lebanese employers’ mistreatment of an “other”, confronting them with their own wrong-doings.
The next step for the TenTwelve campaign would be to translate its messages to the mother tongues of the migrant domestic workers, in order to not only get a broader coverage, but perhaps also bring these women one step closer to understanding and claiming their basic human rights.
Campaign by JOANNE MARIE HARIK