File - Migrant domestic workers walk dogs in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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When Jane came from the Philippines to Lebanon as a domestic worker to cook, clean and care for children, she only met her new boss on the day she moved into her house – and was unhappy from the outset.Enter Leena Ksaifi, who runs Equip, the first non-governmental organization in Lebanon to play matchmaker between employers and migrant domestic workers in a bid to tackle worker abuse and trafficking and ensure both bosses and workers are happy.Ksaifi said she wanted to shake up traditional recruiting in Lebanon, where people go through agencies and rarely meet workers in person before hiring them under the kafala sponsorship system, which binds migrant workers to one employer.A 2015 report from the ILO showed globally there were 11.5 million migrant domestic workers, accounting for 7.7 percent of all migrant workers, with 73 percent of jobs held by women.In Lebanon there are more than 200,000 registered migrant domestic workers, according to 2017 government data.There are no official records of trafficked or abused migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.Amin said that recruiting agencies can charge employers up to $4,000 depending where they are hiring and workers' experience but agencies can only connect migrant workers with employers in advance if contact information is given in the origin country.
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