A comparative analysis of the femicide of migrant domestic workers in Bahrain and Lebanon: The systemic abuse of foreign female labourers

Asia and the Pacific


Gender-based violence (GBV) is becoming a major topic of criminological concern. This article examines the factors contributing to the abuse of female Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) by their employers in two Middle Eastern countries, Lebanon and Bahrain. It pinpoints the law as the structure that maintains the slavery-like conditions that facilitate the systematic violence towards MDWs in Bahrain and Lebanon. It also looks at how processes of criminalisation cement MDWs in their precarious positions, subject to un-investigated femicide. Therefore, this article proposes to view femicide as a state of existence resulting from a wider societal structure as opposed to a single act condensed in time and space. The article adopts an intersectional approach to GBV, which draws attention to the states’ role in facilitating the exploitation of MDWs. It also calls for the inclusion of MDWs in the Lebanese and Bahraini labour laws. By acknowledging the multi-dimensional abuse which ultimately results in the death of MDWs, the article concludes that the governments of the receiving and sending countries must do more to protect their most marginalised subjects. Moreover, criminologists should include MDWs as a criminalised group in more of their academic endeavours.

External Authors

Marya Al-Hindi
Despite being the two Kafala practicing countries with the most information available, there is relatively limited information on the topic due to underreporting, government cover-ups, and facilitation of this exploitation by the law. Subsequently, the aim of this essay is not to provide an exhaustive account, but to provide a starting point to prompt further research.




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