Recently, the international community has been focused on Lebanon’s uprisings and protests. These protests began after the government proposed a tax on WhatsApp calls. After recognizing the backlash, the government scrapped the proposal for the tax. Yet, it did so at a point by which the movement had taken on a cause greater than protesting a tax.
The Lebanese people are fighting for a complete overhaul of federal programs in Lebanon. They feel the government has not done enough to counter the economic crisis the country is currently facing. Additionally, the people believe that the government is ignoring women’s rights on multiple levels.
Though Lebanon is a country where politicians once dominated every single aspect of the media, certain Lebanense channels have recently yielded their programming to the people through an “open mic”. By doing this, they give the Lebanese populus a platform to express their grievances with the government.
However, though certain small changes have been made in an attempt to further the rights of workers, the government has failed to change one of the most oppressive institutions in Lebanon: the Kafala system. The Kafala system makes it extremely difficult for Lebanese workers, especially women, to hold a job and criticizing their employers. According to Al-Jazeera, “under the country's Kafala system, or co-sponsorship system, the legal status of migrant domestic workers is in the hands of their employers. If the employer terminates their contract, the sponsorship gets automatically cancelled, turning these workers into illegal aliens and putting them at risk of arrest and... deportation.”
The impassioned chants of “all of them means all of them” continue to fill the streets, expressing the Lebanese people’s commitment to the rights of the people, especially workers. The Kafala system is standing directly in the way of the rights of the over 250,000 foreign workers living in Lebanon.
In order for the protests to halt, the Lebanese government must abolish the Kafala system that oppresses many at the expense of their livelihood.