writings of a redemptive soul

writings of a redemptive soul

it's a long journey to redemption

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Ethiopian suicides in the Middle East

Many Ethiopian migrant workers working throughout the Middle East, espeically in Lebanon, are subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and are often denied wages, causing many of them  to commit suicide. Unfortunately, this is not unique to Ethiopian migrant workers. This experience is a reality for many Sri Lankan, Bengali, Nepali, Malagasy, and Eritrean domestic workers working in Lebanese homes.

Lebanese families employ an estimated 200,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Nepal. Domestic workers are excluded from the labor law and subject to restrictive immigration rules based on employer-specific sponsorship that putworkers at risk of exploitation and make it difficult for them to leave abusive employers. The high incidence of abuse has led several countries, including Ethiopia, to bar their citizens from working in Lebanon. The ban on official travel to Lebanon has not halted the migration of domestic workers and may contribute to women being smuggled or trafficked into the country. http://www.ethiopianreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=36912

Lebanon March 8: source: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=36912

  Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI), a Lebanese television network, released a video filmed on February 24 by an anonymous bystander in which a labor recruiter physically abused Dechasa-Desisa outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut. As she protests, he and another man drag her into a car. LBCI later identified the man beating Dechasa-Desisa as Ali Mahfouz,the brother of the head of the recruiting agency that brought her to Lebanon. Mahfouz agreed to be interviewed on television and alleged that his brother’s agency had been trying to return her to her home country because she had mental health problems.

Police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter, found the car still there, and took Dechasa-Desisa to a detention center. Following a request by Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, who maintains a presence at the detention facility, they transferred her for medical care two days later but did not arrest those who carried out the beatings. Dechasa-Desisa committed suicide at the Deir al-Saleeb psychiatric hospital in the early morning of March 14. A social worker from Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, who visited Dechasa-Desisa at the Deir al-Saleeb psychiatric hospital, told Human Rights Watch that a Lebanese forensic doctor examined her on March 10.

(Watch youtube video here)

Following her death Ethiopians gather in front of the Ethiopian consulate’s office in Beirut to protest.  EThiopians are outraged that “that officials at the consulate saw Dechasa-Desisa being beaten, thrown on the ground and forced into Mahfouz’s care, but failed to take action, instead remaining inside the consulate walls and watching the abuse.”

ethiopian protest

Filed under moderdayslavery ethiopianmigrantworkers

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redefining diaspora

He has shown the world how Black males in America are still grossly misunderstood, how their identities are based on stereotypes and how their lives are ended because of them. He has reminded the world, that race in America is as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago in the murder of Emmitt Till.

But Trayvon has reminded me that in America, despite our foreign ancestry, or our nomadic upbringing, or our multilingual tongues, we-members of the African Diaspora-  need to ascribe to the “black” identity.

Society doesn’t wait to let you reveal your diversity. It does not allow you to define yourself. It boxes you in and brands you according to those who look like you.

I have always viewed myself as a Diasporan, as a black woman whose Ethiopian heritage distinguishes her, but whose black experiences unite her with a people spanning three continents. The creation of a black Diaspora emerged at a time when unity was needed to fight oppression. It encouraged us to pick up the pieces of our shattered idenities and incrementally reframe that image. It allowed us to forge bonds based on shared experiences that only we understood. It gave us hope. It gave us pride.

But I’ve noticed as of late that it no longer represents black unity. Instead, its being invoked in discussions that inadvertantly promote excluision and ethnic fragmentation. We have begun to specify the Diaspora for which we belong - Ethiopian, Eritrean, and recently most popularly seen: Ugandan.  By no means am I suggesting there is no validity or necessity in creating ethnic Diasporas, in fact by its purest definition Ethiopians living in the United States are part of the Ethiopian Diaspora. There are obviously cultural needs, expectations, and norms that speak to the Ethiopian peoples alone. But my concern is that while we are busy promoting, assisting, empowering our brothers and sisters miles away, that we are neglecting our distant relatives next door. Shouldn’t we be as committed to the plight of inner city kids in Southeast DC as we are to the child brides in Ethiopia? I am speaking to my African activists who forget about our duties to the black communities we reside in or frequent for entertainment.

The Trayvon Martin shooting reminds us that in America, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Ghanaian, Kenyan, or Trinidadian. It matters that your hue is darker than a paper bag. It may not be right, or fair but it’s the reality that we find ourselves operating in.  And so while I’m Ethiopian, know that Trayvon could have been my brother too.

Filed under blackdiaspora trayvonmartin race identity