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Lebanese domestic workers to unionize

Domestic workers in Lebanon are working together to create a union to push for their rights and thwart potential abuses.
A migrant domestic worker holds up a placard during a parade in Beirut, to support the rights of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, ahead of May Day, April 29, 2012. The domestic worker industry in Lebanon is vast - foreign maids account for more than five percent of the population - and the sector is plagued by archaic labour laws, inhumane practices and dire wages. REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON - Tags: CIVIL UNREST BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT POLITICS) - RTR31DDR

In their fight against abuse and violence, around 200 foreign female domestic workers launched the first domestic workers union of Lebanon, with the help of the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees Union (FENASOL), an organization that has worked with foreign domestic employees for the past four years to make the government consider their rights. The union is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, but was still not recognized by the Ministry of Labor two months after its official creation.

The women who pushed for the founding of the domestic workers union can be found outside Beirut. In the gym of the College des Freres Unis school in Salouni, on March 15, well-dressed Sri Lankan women set up their annual Sri Lanka Women Society's Day. Mala, a domestic worker who has been in Lebanon for 33 years, is the organizer of the event, which has today a different feel.

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