Dilan says no move to ban maids to Lebanon

Sri Lanka’s plan to ban women travelling abroad to work in menial jobs excludes Lebanon, a Sri Lankan government minister said Thursday in Beirut, as the two countries draft an agreement over the issue.
“[There is] no ban on the travel of domestic workers and Sri Lankan labor to Lebanon, on the contrary we are working to better the conditions of their experiences here and raise the age of those with the right to travel from 21 to 23,” Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment and Social Services Dilan Pereira told reporters.
His comments came after meeting Lebanon’s Labor Minister Salim Jreissati at the latter’s office.
Pereira also said that his country is teaching its citizens both Arabic and English so that they can communicate better with their employers in Lebanon.
The meeting between the two officials was aimed at drafting a new agreement that will soon be signed governing Sri Lankan labor rights.
Jreissati said Lebanon guarantees decent labor and fair wages for domestic workers, adding that he is drafting a code of conduct for decent labor.
Following the beheading of a 17-year-old nanny in Saudi Arabia, Sri Lankan Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced last Thursday that women under 25 were now banned from going to the Arab state to work as maids.
Sri Lankan Rizana Nafik was charged with smothering a four-month-old baby in Saudi Arabia in 2005.
Lebanon has seen many cases of abuse against domestic workers with activists criticizing the sponsorship system for promoting such practices.
In a 2008 report, Human Rights Watch found that there was an average of one death a week from unnatural causes among domestic workers in Lebanon, including suicide and falls from tall buildings. (Daily Star)