Rahel Zegeye, an Ethiopian migrant worker, MWTF member, language student, and filmmaker, is featured on the African Women in Cinema blog!
“My main aim with the film was to show a different perspective on the lives of Ethiopian workers in Lebanon. We often hear stories of abuse and bad treatment of Lebanese employers towards their foreign domestic workers (maids). Most media and organizations working to help migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Lebanon portray the worker as a helpless victim, her fate ruled by evil agencies and bad madams.
Although this often does happen and is definitely an issue that needs attention, reality is much more complicated. I want to shed light on the inner lives and thoughts of a domestic worker, an aspect which is usually hidden from the Lebanese and foreign public.
Many Ethiopian MDWs who come to Lebanon decide to run away from their employers. Some do this due to real reasons of mistreatment, others don’t. They might be tempted to leave the boring household chores and duties at the employer’s house for a ‘freer’ existence.
Once they leave the employer’s house and break their contract they do not have any documents and are illegal to stay in Lebanon. More than often they will choose to sell their bodies for a living whilst enjoying their freedom. They live life on the fast lane: drinking, smoking, partying and sleeping with many men usually without any form of protection. The film tackles sensitive topics such as morality, prostitution and HIV/AIDS.
These are important issues that need to be brought into attention to both Ethiopian women in Lebanon but also back in Ethiopia, before they decide to go work in Lebanon. MDWs need to understand the risks that are involved when you runaway from an employer. “
Check out the post on her feature film following the lives of Ethiopian workers in Lebanon here!