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2016 (Narrative date)

There are an estimated 10,000 people living in modern slavery in Lebanon (GSI 2018). Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign people in Lebanon, and people from the country abroad. Women and girls from South and Southeast Asia and an increasing number from East and West Africa are subjected to domestic servitude in Lebanon. Lebanese government officials and NGOs report most employers withhold their workers passports, putting them at risk of trafficking. NGOs also report that abuse of domestic is underreported. Many migrant workers arrive in Lebanon through legal employment agencies, but are subsequently exploited or abused by their employers; some employment agencies recruit workers through fraudulent or false job offers.

Jessie travelled from Kenya to Lebanon to take up employment as a domestic worker. She was subjected to long hours and sexual harassment from her employer. One day she finally decided to escape, tying bed sheets together and climbing out the window.

They don’t want you to dress nicely. They just want you to be a slave.

There was a time I was left in the house with the mister. He came to where I was sleeping and told me, “I want you.” I told him, “No. I am married.” He said, “You’re in my house. You have to obey my rules.”

I said, “Even if you want to kill me, it’s okay. I can’t have sex with you.”

“I can’t. I’ll tell your wife.” He said, “If you do, I’ll shoot you.” He put his gun here and threatened me. That was my worst day in Lebanon.

That day I was feeling so down. I was fed up. I couldn’t take it anymore. I took my three bedsheets and tied them – and used them to get down.

I was scared, but because of what I was going through I decided that dying, it’s better than to go through what I was going through.

I called the agent and told him about the situation. He said, “you came here to work, not to play.” I tried to explain, “Yes, I came to work, but the conditions…” “This is not a normal life.”


Narrative as told to filmmakers for The Secret Slaves of the Middle East. Credit is given to The Why Foundation and Documentary Filmmakers Puk Damsgaard & Søren Klovborg