Weeks earlier before she got assaulted Gloria, a domestic worker in Lebanon had gone to the consul to pay the fee $1500 that would enable her to return to Kenya. But the consul was asking for more money. She has been saving this money for over five years as she was laboring as a domestic worker.
Gloria braced herself to confront the honorary consul,” Good morning sir she said. I have come to take back my money”. All she got as a response was a slap and a struggle between her and the consul occurred. She says, ”They started pushing me and beating me and I also pushed them. They called me a whore.They cursed my sister and they told me to eat sh*t”. This incident was made known to the public by CNN during an interview with Gloria.
Gloria is among the many women who have been physically assaulted by the Honorary Consul in Lebanon, Sayed Chalouhi, and his assistant Kaseem Jaber. Several women have come out to tell their stories including Linda who says that the consul suggested she do sex work to save up money for her repatriation after she refused and insisted on cleaning his office instead the consul failed to pay her.
Beirut based migrants rights group has been investigating and compiling cases on how the consulate has been exploiting Kenyan domestic workers. The consul is said to overcharge them for the essential consular and that they are physically and verbally punished if they call them out for their abuse of power.
Jaber an assistant at the consulate denies all the allegations and says, ”We never overcharge any girl”. He continued to say that they have been of help to Kenyan women in Lebanon.” Everything is monitored by the consul himself so that no one will harm or insult any Kenyan girl, because we have a very good reputation here in Lebanon.No one will try to spoil our name”, he told CNN by phone.
Chalouhi is not a Kenyan citizen but Kenya’s official representative in Lebanon. He is a Lebanese lawyer who was appointed to lead the country’s diplomatic mission. He is tasked to protect over 1000 domestic workers who are mostly women.
Linda a domestic worker community organizer says, the workers need food and they need answers.” I tell you we are passing through hell one Kenyan woman said.COVID -19 has even made the situation worse as Lebanon since October 2019 has experienced the worst economic crisis.
After three weeks in detention, Gloria was deported from Lebanon and got another job in another Arab country. She says, ” I was thinking about it too much when I left Lebanon, I thought what happened to me, what happened to this man. He is our consul he should help us when we go there”.