If we collectively want to put an end to racism in the GCC and the Middle East (yes, anti-black racism is also an Arab problem), we need to start by bringing down the Kafala system.
Under this oppressive sponsorship system, the legal status of domestic migrant workers is placed in the hands of their employers. They can’t leave their employers without losing their immigration status and many of them have their passports confiscated. Even Lebanon’s former Labour Minister Camille Abousleiman likened the system to “modern day slavery” in a 2019 interview with The Independent. To put this in stark perspective: on average, two workers die every week.
So now it’s time that we take action. Here are five ways that you can fight the Kafala system.
Get involved locally
Sign up to local organizations that are organising protests and are working on the ground to help domestic workers. @thisislebanon is a great one to follow.
Donate to anti-Kafala organisations
Resources are essential in supporting the activists and organizers trying to make a difference. Don’t know where to donate? Egna Legna is a grassroots, non-religious, community-focused, feminist organisation working to help Ethiopian workers in Lebanon, and discourage women in Ethiopia from moving to Lebanon.
Yes, petitions can make a difference so if you’re looking for efficient ways to demand justice for labour workers, you should sign petitions here and here.
Take action in your own life
Name and call out racism around you. Have uncomfortable discussions – call out your friends and your family. Making a change starts in the immediate systems you interact with.
Don’t stop talking about it
Anti-racism might be a hot topic right now, but the real work must continue long after the news cycle is over. Make a commitment to support the fight against Kafala everyday going forward.