(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — An advertisement by a maid provider in Lebanon sparked outrage on Monday, after the business sent out a mass message offering “special offers” on Kenyan and Ethiopian “nationalities”.
The SMS advertisement was sent to thousands of phone users in Lebanon through mobile providers Alfa and MTC Touch, which allow businesses to purchase advertising that reach mobile users in the country.
READ the advertisement:
The advertisement was shared by Lebanese NGO, “KAFA”, which advocates against “gender-based” discrimination and violence.
Several Facebook users commented in anger, calling the message “racist” and comparing the sale of maids to the sale of “potatoes.”
“I’ve heard an officer at the airport call on a domestic worker by her country name in a very disrespectful and demeaning manner,” wrote one user on Facebook. “She should have answered back saying at least we have electricity in my country!”
Despite the outrage, one blogger says it’s unlikely any action against the company will be taken.
“Today, the fair citizens of Lebanon are in shock,” wrote Beirut-based blogger Claude El Khal. “Tomorrow they’ll forget all about it. Until the next SMS or the next suicide.”
But Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said the maid agency would be shut down, if it turns out to be a registered company.
The listed phone number in the advertisement traces to Alice Chalhoub, who owns a Beirut-based agency in Ain El Remmaneh that places domestic workers in Lebanese homes, according to MaidXchange.com.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Lebanon hosts dozens of other maid agencies that connect more than 250,000 migrant domestic workers with potential employers.
Human Rights Watch reports that, on average, more than one migrant domestic worker dies in Lebanon per week.