Beirut, Lebanon – The employer of a Nigerian home employee accused of abuse was blacklisted and referred for a prison investigation after Al Jazeera uncovered the case.
Ariwolo Olamide Temitope, 31, mentioned she was crushed by Mahmoud Zahran, the husband of her employer, Feyzeh Diab, on April 25 at a house the place they stay in Choueifat, south of Beirut. Temitope additionally talked about previous beatings by Diab.
Diab was referred to as in for interrogation on the Labor Ministry on Tuesday and was subsequently blacklisted – which means she will be unable to rent any extra home staff.
Temitope’s case follows the arrest of a person final week accused of placing a Nigerian home employee up “on the market” on a Fb web page that’s used largely to promote second-hand objects.
Each instances have caught the attention of Nigerian authorities, who instructed Al Jazeera they’re frightened about growing abuse of Nigerians, trafficked as home staff in Asia and the Center East, amid complaints of abuse and sexual exploitation.
Julie Okah-Donli, head of Nigeria’s Nationwide Company for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Individuals, mentioned trafficking has soared up to now two years.
“Estimates of the variety of such victims within the Center East vary between 5,000 and 10,000,” Okah-Donli mentioned. The “majority of those women have been trafficked for home servitude and sexual exploitation”, she instructed Al Jazeera.
‘Look how they beat me!’
On the night time of April 25, Temitope mentioned Diab overheard her talking on a cell phone and accused her of stealing it. She mentioned Zahran then hit her within the mouth, inflicting severe bleeding.
Temitope mentioned she had been calling her household in Nigeria to want her son a contented birthday – he had turned six years previous two days earlier than.
Reeling from the blow to her mouth, Temitope took a video of herself, revealing the dimensions of the harm.
“Assist me. Oh lord. How lengthy do I wish to maintain doing this? And I did not take the telephone. Look how they beat me! Look how they beat me!” she says as she movies.
Diab instructed Al Jazeera her husband “pushed” Temitope “out of self-defence” after she attacked them.
She claimed Temitope had stolen the telephone and mentioned she had up to now “pulled a knife on me” and “hit me”.
“That may be a huge, huge lie. There may be nothing of the type,” Temitope mentioned of the claims. “If I had crushed them earlier than, why would they go away me in the home working with them?”
The day after the alleged assault, Temitope mentioned she was locked in an empty room on the second flooring of the identical constructing her employers stay in.
Fearing what they could do to her subsequent, she contacted a Nigerian activist in Lebanon.
He agreed to assist her, and so she scaled down the surface of the constructing by way of the balcony, abandoning possessions and her passport, and made her method to a protected location.
The day ‘their angle modified’
Temitope mentioned the employers had initially handled her effectively. When her telephone broke following her arrival in Lebanon on October 1, 2019, they’d offered one for her, permitting her to contact her husband and two kids, aged 6 and 11, again dwelling.
However then, she mentioned, Zahran made sexual advances and even supplied to pay her $100 a month in change. Her total month’s wage was simply $200.
“I shouted at him. I am not going to lie – I spoke to him roughly to say that I am right here to work, so I can have an excellent life, not for intercourse,” Temitope mentioned. “Since then, their angle modified.”
Diab denied that her husband had made sexual advances, saying he was an previous man who spent a lot of his time away engaged on a farm.
Al Jazeera was unable to contact Zahran immediately. Diab mentioned he was away, with out elaborating.
After she turned down the advance, Temitope mentioned the telephone she was offered was taken away, and he or she secretly purchased herself a brand new one and used it solely at night time.
Temitope mentioned she was not allowed to relaxation, being made to work seven days every week.
These are widespread grievances of home staff in Lebanon, of which there are an estimated 250,000.
Harsh circumstances are facilitated by the infamous kafala system, which ties the authorized residence of home staff to their employers.
This implies they can’t finish their contracts or switch to a different employer with out the consent of their present employer – a system former Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman likened to “modern-day slavery”.
One of many fundamental considerations of consultants is the way by which home staff are delivered to Lebanon – by means of a sequence of recruitment workplaces which have been recognized to mislead and abuse ladies.
These brokers are authorized in Lebanon, however Nigerian authorities instructed Al Jazeera the system is unlawful there due to human trafficking rules
Temitope’s transfer to Lebanon was facilitated by an agent in Abule Egba, a suburb of Nigeria’s industrial capital, Lagos.
The agent – who spoke to Al Jazeera on situation of anonymity – mentioned they don’t drive ladies to journey – they solely assist with processing journey paperwork and figuring out potential employers.
The agent mentioned he collects 100,000 naira ($256) as his price, whereas 50,000 naira ($128) goes in the direction of bribing immigration workers on the airport.
He mentioned a wage of $250 a month in Lebanon was justified by the truth that employers had been paying about $1,800 in bills on every home employee.
“They like ladies of their early 20s … and it depends upon your physique. They like people who find themselves small,” the agent mentioned. “It takes a couple of month to course of the journey preparations. There are additionally alternatives in Baghdad and so they deal with staff higher. They pay round $300 there.”
The agent mentioned his position ends when the home employee leaves Nigeria – they don’t intervene when any drawback arises between the home employee and the employer.
Okah-Donli of the Nigerian anti-trafficking company expressed confidence of their efforts “to weed out rogue recruiters” would save home staff abroad.
Regardless of her expertise of abuse in Lebanon, Temitope mentioned a scarcity of alternative again dwelling was pushing her to remain.
“I wish to make it, I am unable to return to Nigeria empty-handed,” she mentioned. “And I would like justice.”