A maid in the loft

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A few days before arriving in the Beirut, lebanon my friend, Angie, Junqueras, and showed me to a tiny mezzanine level, which was above the kitchen, which is in Arabic called tedji
if you

. It was a place designed for you to sleep with the maid. During these days, I am emptying out, it is not without worth, and my three tedjites
–about the kitchen, another in the bathroom, and the third one on the corridor– hundreds of newspapers, magazines, travel programs, tours, conferences, the texts written in the hand of my commentaries, posters, pasquines policy, the leaves volanderas of the years of the second world war, Portuguese, japanese, Arabic, French, German, English, Catalan, German, Greek, and Turkish. A treasure trove of time-after fifty years in the life of a correspondent.



It has been good to me, just the these home that have been built in the forties as part of the urban architecture, which are designed as a cupboard for storing bottles of oil, utensils, home-made, to collect the rugs during the summer time, before he gave too much, especially when the room for the girls to serve them, that night, were able to rise to the tedjite a wooden flight of stairs.


The crisis has left them in the street, hundreds of domestic workers with foreign producers, who do not have rights under the law, ‘in accordance with’

With a height of not more than one meter, the tedjite you have a few square feet. In the houses of new construction, since it is not included in your plan. The tedjite –a hiding-place, as described by Txell Feixas, in his wonderful book, The gifts of valour– it was the vergonzante a symbol of the treatment of the maids, mostly from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, or Bangladesh, and that they represent the half of the half-a-million migrant workers in Lebanon. In spite of all the conflict and uncertainty in Lebanon would prefer to work there before it’s extremely poor countries. In the sixties, were in addition to the four that came in, attracted by the glow vibrant and cosmopolitan capital, where he was well regarded by the lebanese if the dedicasen to these issues.

In the case of Beirut, in a family that is worth its salt, has an asian or an african to its service. It is a sign of social status, and in addition to that, they can, for very little money. When you go out on the street, accompanying his employer, go submit, a couple of steps back, they have to pechar, with the children, and to be at your service and you will.

A protest against the act in accordance with it in front of the Parliament on Saturday

A protest against the act in accordance with it in front of the Parliament on Saturday
(NABIL MOUNZER / AFP)







It is not only in the Arabian peninsula, where there are all the scandals, the abuses, the violations of this sweet hand-to-hand work, but also in Lebanon. There can be no doubt that here is the most well-known and well-ventilated, thanks to the freedom of the press are non-existent in the other countries of the arab world. Suicide at times, throwing for balconies,–, rape, and escape attempts are common among domestic workers. It often appears in newspaper ads as “we are looking for sri lankan cities”, with your picture on it, and the signs of the identity of, or that is is what “to communicate is the same, except that, in particular, to sign it.” When the owners, if you ausentan of the house , they tend to be closed with a key. Don’t let them go out on Sundays, so that it is not possible to interact with other staff. The mass of the twelve-the church is the weekly get-together, because most of them profess the christian religion.

A shame in accordance with it is a law that gives the employer the right to lay away your freedom, allowing you to keep your passport, recluirla in your home, or even to deprive him of his wages, under the pretext of taking him to the end of it, or descontarle a portion of the money up front in exchange for a ride, or for the expenses of the agency and the intermediary.



The tedjite narrow , and dark, is the symbol of your servitude. In the wake of the sinking of the lebanese pound in recent months, and speculation of a non-stop journey to the us dollar, many of the families of the lebanese who are no longer able to pay for the employee, and the release of one of them, leaving them on the street, in front of the embassy with their suitcases. In the last few weeks have been a hundred of these women left abandoned in front of the u.s. embassy in Ethiopia, waiting to be repatriated to your home country. In a full pandemic, and the airport in Beirut, closed it, and found a locked door.

If the arabs complain, and with reason, of the racism and suffering in Europe, and the attitude of the people of color, especially black, are outrageous. They were the first, centuries ago, from the island of Zanzibar, which has been on the effects of the slave trade in Africa. In Arabic, the word abed I mean, as much a slave as the black one. The stories of the tedjite they are often sordid.



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