/ by Adib Chowdhury


Friends and activists congregate to remember Lembibo, an Ethiopian domestic worker who died under mysterious circumstances last month. She was found dead in her agent’s swimming pool having been taken away following a miscarriage the day before.

A sample of my new work looking at the lives of international migrant workers. This is so much broader and horrific than I ever imagined and will take longer than I envisioned. It covers issues of racism, trafficking, andmens misguided belief in the ownership of women's bodies. Below is Lembibo's story.

An unmistakeable bulge began to appear on Lembibo. Pregnancy. Youssef Ramel, her sponsor, called the doctors only when blood began to flow down her bed and into her room. She was having premature birthing complications and was rushed to hospital where she then suffered a miscarriage. Ramel’s wife phoned the agency, “now she needs someone to be her maid. Take her.” Lembibo was now a burden to the family, worthless as a maid.

Lembibo’s agent, Ali Hoteit, came the next day and took her to his house. Inexplicably, his wife removed the CCTV cameras of the house the night before. By breakfast, Lembibo could be seen floating dead in the agent’s swimming pool.

Later, footage went viral of Lembibo screaming and refusing to enter her agent’s car. Activists argue as to whether she was a victim of rape either by the agent who took her away, by her sponsor, or if she was pregnant before arriving. Requests for a DNA test and investigation into the deaths have been declined and the agent remains uncharged and free. Neighbours say they saw the agent sometimes go into the house and beat her with a stick, her stifled screams echoing down the street. The case resembles one of many domestic worker’s “suicides” in Lebanon which appear under dubious circumstances. Activists argue that sponsors are abusing and murdering workers with impunity across the country. Official government statistics reveal international migrant worker deaths occur at a rate of 2 per week- and these are conservative official figures. The real figures are likely to be higher. @ Beirut, Lebanon