Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Solidarity With Domestic Migrant Workers in Lebanon - International Women's Day

Sunday was a day to remember, as we all walked proudly with our shirts, made especially for this occasion, in Hamra street and then on Corniche el Manara. People couldn't help but look at us since we were walking in groups of twos and threes, because maybe for some, we looked like a football team.

Yesterday was beyond amazing. At first, we had a sit-in for Foreign Workers in Lebanon and to me the cause was something that matters more than I show because these people don’t have any other resort in a country that is not theirs and they don’t have anyone to fall back on.

At 2:00 pm, all the Feminist Collective members headed towards Hamra, Al-Madina theater and it was overwhelming for all of us. I got there with couple friends of mine at exactly 2:30, got a banner from my friend and stood with every one.

Then I started looking around and I asked myself: where are the foreign workers? Where are the girls to whome this issue matters the most? I know it matters to us but this is the biggest cause in their lives.

The more I looked, the more I realized that this was like the upper class protesting for the lower class, or white people for people of color. I’m not saying there is something wrong with that but in a way it always looks like the upper society is feeling sorry for the lower, poor and unfortunate people and I never liked that.

30 minutes later, the foreign workers came and they seemed very shy and reluctant to come and be a part of it. Can you blame them? Really. Afterwards, everyone started to encourage them to come into the middle which was the right thing to do-- they should be the middle of the sit-in. But it was obvious how uncomfortable it was for them.

And when they finally felt a bit encouraged, the cameraman from a tv station started to harass them to get more footage and after they refused to stand more he reacted very violently; he took his camera, said to his assistance in the meanest tone ever: “ emshe ya 3ame sho mana netrajehon” and they took off…

After that it was time for us to leave for our own sit-in.

We live in a country where people criticize the West for being racist and abusive to non white people, and we live in a country where the color of the skin does not seem to be an issue because we don’t have black and white but we do have non-Lebanese people... We don’t really see that when it comes to racism we are still where the west was 50 years ago.

Lebanese people tend to think they’re better than anyone who is not Lebanese, European or American. They don’t see it and don’t notice it but it's out there, and I think it will take a lot of time for this to change.

Zainab Nasser