An Exploratory Study of Psychoanalytic and Social Factors in the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers by Female Employers in Lebanon
The brief of this qualitative exploratory study was to conduct targeted interviews with female employers of migrant domestic workers, psychiatrists, lawyers and institutional stakeholders in Lebanon. In conjunction with previous empirical and theoretical research on the topic of human rights violations against migrant domestic workers, the study provides an analysis of the conditions, circumstances of and possible explanations for such violations.
The aim of the study was to explore the possible psychological or psycho-social factors that may be involved in the violence and abuse of domestic workers by their female employers. The target of female employers was chosen because the madam of the house perpetrates most incidents of abuse. For example in the survey carried out by the author in 2005-6, which included interviews of 610 migrant domestic workers in Beirut, it was found that the female employer did most of the yelling (75%), name calling or verbal abuse (86%), and hitting (63%). In a replicated study in Cairo (780 domestic worker respondents), similar results were obtained, where the female employer was responsible for 73% of the yelling, 51% of the name calling (with 23 % “all family members” that included the madam) and 70% of the hitting.