Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Resolution in Support of Foreign Domestic Workers in the Middle East

WHEREAS, it is known large number of Ethiopian women travel to the Middle East to work as domestic workers, and often most of them are abused, denied their salaries, held in captivity, raped, and tortured by their employers; and,

WHEREAS, it is also known that majority of the governments in the Middle East exclude foreign domestic workers from legal employment protection; and,

WHEREAS, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the International Labor Organization have to put more pressure on the Middle Eastern governments; and,

WHEREAS, the abuse of domestic workers is a human rights issue, which needs an in-depth understanding and a strategic solution within and beyond the Ethiopian community; and,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee has inaugurated its first public meeting on March 03, 2012, to create an advocacy task force to lobby governments and responsible parties on the plight of foreign domestic workers, particularly Ethiopian women, in the Middle East.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee calls on the governments of the Middle Eastern countries where the abuses occur, the Ethiopian government and governments of others countries that send domestic workers to the Middle East, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the International Labor Organization to find practical and sustainable solutions to ensure that the human as well as civil rights of domestic workers are fully protected.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee expresses its interest in collaborating with governmental and civil organizations that are already advocating for foreign domestic workers and are actively involved in alleviating the problem.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee believes that women’s basic human and civil rights must be ensured, and reaches out to all concerned individuals to join the movement in raising awareness for the foreign domestic workers and in demanding that the abuse they face must be abolished.

For Immediate Release

Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC)

First event held in celebration of Women’s History Month, advocating and creating awareness about the abuse of Ethiopian women in the Middle East

New York, NY (March 22, 2012) — The Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee held its first event on March 3rd, 2012, celebrating the Women’s History month by advocating for domestic workers in the Middle East.

The event featured a panel discussion that brought together activists from different walks of life, including Ammiebelle Omoshalewa, a life member of the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women, Ms. Ghennet Girma, Director of International Ethiopian Women Organization, and Ms. Tsehai Wodajo, Director of Real (Resources for Enrichment of African Lives) of Minnesota. The chairperson and founder of ESAC, Ms. Zewditu Fesseha and the moderator, Tigist Selam, led the discussion highlighting the urgency of the issue with continued abuse of Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle East.

The panelists presented various discussion points from economical and political issues, which they explained are driving the women to seek employment in these countries. They also discussed the lack of legal and cultural framework in the Middle East countries, leading employers to freely abuse the domestic workers. Ms. Omoshalew related the ongoing abuse to the days of civil rights movement in the United States, and charged the audience to fight on. Ms. Ghennet emphasized on solving the problem from its root in Ethiopia, while addressing the brutal treatment of domestic workers. In conclusion, Ms. Zewditu Fesseha emphaised that the challenge is very high but everyone could do it! She also suggested that everyone work together in order to achieve the goal. Ms. Zewditu Fesseha also asked that people use their professionally, technically, financial, to help the organization in everyway. She says, “Enough talking, action is needed!”

The audience on its part condemned the abuse of domestic workers, and discussed possible solutions to address the problem. Some of the points addressed include, the women living in New York City that have escaped the brutal experience in the Middle East and are seeking help, the political challenge in addressing the migration of domestic workers both in Ethiopian and host countries, and the lack of legal basis to fight for the right of domestic workers in the host countries. The audience was divided among the five borough of NYC, and during a working dinner, took on the challenge of exploring the abuse of domestic workers in five different states in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

The Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee is a non-profit organization. It is organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation law for welfare and educational purposes. The Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee vision is to support the youth and women’s rights, health, education and culture.

Update: Ethiopian Woman Beaten on Camera Kills Herself: Vigil for Alem Dechassa

Members of ESAC are shocked and devastated by this sad news!!! As our chairwoman Ms. Zewditu has urged, all concerned individuals (Ethiopians and non Ethiopians) who live around NYC and beyond please join us to fight this fight against the abuse of domestic workers in the Middle East. It is inhuman to savagely abuse domestic workers and it must be stopped. May Alem Dechassa rest in peace!!!

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The Ethiopian domestic worker that was violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut, as shown in a viral video last weekend, has committed suicide, Ethiopia’s Consul General confirmed to local media in Lebanon.

Alem Dechasa, 33, hanged herself using her bed sheets Wednesday morning, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

“My body is shaking and my heart is broken” said Ms. Zewditu Fessehaa, Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee in New York City, whose organization has been mobilizing efforts to assist the victim. “It’s depressing, it’s very sad and it’s unfair. She added: “As a mother I want to appeal to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to do something. Our daughters are being treated like dogs and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Ethiopian General Consul Asaminew Debelie Bonssa spoke to the Daily Star following a visit to the hospital where she killed herself. According to the newspaper, the Ethiopian consulate official said he saw Alem Dechasa Saturday and she appeared fine. The diplomat also said doctors told him they checked on her at 5 a.m. this morning and when they returned at 6 a.m. she was dead. Bonssa said he was ‘deeply shocked’ by the news.”

In New York, the ESAC chairwoman called for a collective response. “I want to appeal to everyone. We need to pull together to stop this madness,” Ms. Fessehaa said. “The cruelty directed against domestic workers is a human rights issue.” She added: “It needs an in-depth understanding, and an innovative solution within and beyond the Ethiopian community. We need people from every profession to assist us to make sure that our sister did not die in vain.”

Meanwhile, a vigil to mourn Alem Dechasa’s death is scheduled in front of the Lebanon embassy on Thursday, at 11 AM in Washington D.C.

Abuse Case in Lebanon Featured on Tadias News

In this informative article from Tadias, In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces, ESAC’s chairperson outspokenly criticized the mistreatment of foreign domestic workers in the Middle East and encouraged concerned people to work together in order to find possible solutions to help the women:

“It is time to end the unchecked exploitation of migrant women in the Middle East,” said Ms. Zewditu Fessehaa,” Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee in New York City. ESAC recently hosted a public forum to highlight the plight of Ethiopian female domestic workers in the Middle East. “As the world can see from this video the treatment of domestic workers in that part of the world is inhumane, barbaric, unjust and must be stopped,” Ms. Fessehaa said.

In New York, Ms. Fessehaa said she is urging everyone to speak out on behalf of the workers. “Men or women, it is time to break the silence on this urgent crisis,” she said. “We need to demand that our women are treated with dignity and humanity.” She added: “We need to start thinking about alternative solutions to the larger problem that continues to lure them to unsafe work conditions in foreign lands. This issue must be permanently solved.”

Update: Abuser of the Ethiopian domestic worker in Lebanon identified!

A great news for the depressing story: LBC International, a news media organization has identified the man seen in the video footage that we posted earlier, the man who was abusing the Ethiopian girl.

Here is the full report: LBCI identifies the man who abused the Ethiopian domestic worker.

As the news media states, “This Ethiopian girl may be lucky that pictures of her were taken while being abused, but many other domestic workers are being beaten and abused behind closed doors.”

May the voice of all the voiceless foreign domestic workers in the Middle East be heard like this!

An Ethiopian girl kidnapped and dragged into a car by a group of coward Lebanese men!

This is the realty for most foreign domestic workers, either in Lebanon or in the Middle East in general—Lebanon and Kuwait seem the worst of all the places for abuse. The video was recorded recently in broad daylight, and as you can see, no one intervened to help the girl, to stop the kidnapping.

Please help this woman in any way you can! Please pass this information to any media or human rights groups.

This detail is posted on YouTube:

Name of the car owner: Mahmoud Zhairani Phone number: 00961-3 655738 Location: Lebanon Car plate number: 295659 Q Colour: Dark Blue

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