Sunday, October 12, 2008

A picture from Beirut

It’s a “maid” agency. Like in many other developing countries, middle class Lebanese families often have live-in maids. However, in most developing countries, maids are either local or from neighboring countries (for instance, in Chile and Argentina you find many maids from Bolivia and Peru), but in Lebanon (and Jordan, I don’t know about other developing countries in the Middle East) maids come from far-away places (mostly Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Ethiopia). The agencies charge fat fees, the government gets big tax revenues on the residency, work, and immigration permits, and the maids get little (the average monthly salary of a maid from Sri Lanka with a two year contract is $180, agency fees are $62 per month, and government fees are $42 per month). For a short documentary, see here and here (the second link has the breakdown of the fees).
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