(Al-Akhbar) – An Ethiopian woman was found hanging from an electrical cord outside her employer’s South Lebanon home in an apparent suicide, state news reported Saturday.
The National News Agency identified the victim as Dimi Kash-Kalashou Kata. It published a disturbing image of the woman hanging by her neck in the southern town of Rmeich.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident, the report said, adding that they believed the woman hung herself as is common among maids in Lebanon, which hosts about 200,000 domestic workers.
Domestic workers in Lebanon and other Arab countries are employed under the heavily criticized sponsorship, or kafala system which denies the maid the right to terminate her contract or leave her employer.
Maids employed under this system are not covered by Lebanese labor laws, meaning they have no minimum wage, social security or other basic rights.
It is almost always the case that an employer holds the maid’s passport over fears she might run away. It is also common for an employer to lock the maid inside their home when they leave the house or travel.
In July a Bangladeshi worker was found hanging in her employer’s home in East Lebanon, and a month before that a pregnant Ethiopian maid committed suicide in Mount Lebanon.
Human Rights Watch documented an average death rate of one per week among domestic workers due to unnatural causes in 2008. Those cases included suicides and death by falling from buildings.