This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Slave Maids in Lebanon

You have probably never have contemplated what the work of the Minister of Population in Madagascar might involve. Right? It turns out that one of her tasks is dealing with the tragedy of human trafficking. More specifically, dealing with the issue of poor women from Madagascar who are essentially sold into servitude in the middle east, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in a story today from BBC News--in Lebanon.
Forced to work as a "slave maid" for wealthy families in Lebanon for 15 years, Abeline Baholiarisoa - a 59-year-old woman from Madagascar - finally achieved her freedom in March.
Madagascar's government chartered a plane to evacuate her and 85 other women.
The youngest of her four children, whom she left behind when he was six years old, played a key role in her evacuation, tracking her down via a welfare agency that rescues "slave maids", she says.
Ms Baholiarisoa says she was trapped in "a living hell" after being duped into going to Lebanon.
Madagascar's Minister of Population Nadine Ramaroson, the only government minister tackling the issue, says "a very organised network" involving senior government officials and businessmen emerged in the 1990s to engage in human trafficking.Ms Ramaroson says the government is trying to break the criminal networks, but it is not easy.Government officials provide fraudulent work permits, travel and identity document for around $5,000 per trafficked woman, social workers say.
While one job agency flew 300 women to Jordan last month with the government's approval, 43 women bound for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were stopped from boarding planes.
Ms Ramaroson said all were recruited from remote rural areas with high illiteracy and poverty levels. Some 16-year-old girls were given forged identity papers showing their age as 21.

Sadly, this is not an isolated story and I have mentioned the situation of foreign women as domestics before in reference to Kuwait and more recently Jordan, although in the case of Jordan is was less obvious that women were in a virtual slave situation as was the women in Lebanon in this story.

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