Fe explains how Bassam Abdel Hadi, owner of Monroe Hotel Beirut and Crystal Spa, cheats and denigrates his workers.
Loriefe (Fe) Durato was employed as a domestic worker in the home of Bassam Abdel Hadi and Reem Yacoub Abdel Hadi from 1 October 2016 to 13 August 2018, after which she fled to the Embassy of the Philippines. The Abdel Hadis own the Crystal One Spa in the four-star Monroe Hotel in downtown Beirut. In total, the Abdel Hadis owe Fe $2,000. For two years they neglected to renew her work and residence permit, which meant she could have been imprisoned at any time.
Fe contacted This Is Lebanon via Facebook in April 2019 to seek help, as she had been sent home to the Philippines with almost 6 months of unpaid salary. Three months’ worth of this had been paid to the agent, something which was declared illegal by the Ministry of Labour in 2007.
Fe was afraid, because 10 other Filipinos who had previously worked at the spa were imprisoned for 3 months. She suspected that their imprisonment was because the Abdel Hadis hadn’t renewed their work permits either, and she didn’t want to end up in prison like them.
Fe told This Is Lebanon that the Abdel Hadis often didn’t have cash, and that she herself paid for deliveries that they had ordered. The Abdel Hadis still owe Fe 10,000 LL ($7) for manoushes (a traditional Lebanese dough-based food, similar to pizza) which she’d paid for because the Abdel Hadis had no money to pay the delivery man.
Fe faced other difficulties whilst working for the Abdel Hadis. Shortly before fleeing to the embassy, Fe alleges that she found that $200 had been taken from her closet by Bassam Abdel Hadi. It had been hidden underneath her clothes. After that, she put a lock on her closet. Reem Abdel Hadi also did not provide all the personal items, such as clothing and hygiene products, she was required to under the terms of the domestic worker’s contract.
This Is Lebanon contacted Bassam Abdel Hadi via WhatsApp, requesting that he pay Fe $800 for 2 months she worked unpaid, plus $1200 for the 3 months he caused her to stay in a safe house. He responded, alleging that Fe had run away with a boyfriend and that “such a maid should be punished for what she did.” When This Is Lebanon asked him for copies of her residence permit, he refused, saying, “stop annoying me. I don’t have to show you anything.” He then blocked us.
We wrote to Reem Yacoub Abdel Hadi saying: “Your husband just made a very unwise decision. Blocking us is not going to solve your problem. It is better to talk. If you did, indeed, do her papers on time each year than you are in the right and this story can be stopped immediately. Please send us a pic of the iqama (work permit) so I can see who is telling the truth. We are giving you an opportunity to show you are right.”
Reem responded that she did “everything and more than everything that this girl needs, and that each girl that works in the house is the most lucky girl ever, and about her papers, she has only one missing year.”
After our conversation, Reem contacted Fe and said she hadn’t sent the salary because she had lost her phone with Fe’s contact details. She had promised to send the salary after Fe returned home. Fe told us that was a lie, and that Reem had seen her messages and not responded, even after she’d told her she needed the money to register her kids in school and help with her father’s hospital bill.
Nevertheless, because of Reem’s promise to put things right, we held off posting. By June 2019 there was still no payment, so we contacted Bassam from a different number. The image to the right is his response.
Fe fled to the embassy for protection; she did not run off with a boyfriend. She did not steal anything from the Abdel Hadi’s house. This is one of the most common accusations. Time and again, domestic workers who escape abusive working conditions are accused of theft and end up doing prison time when they are the victims, not the criminals.
The Abdel Hadis have left us with no option but to post about them. May this serve as a warning to them and others who choose to keep workers undocumented. What would have happened if Fe had had an accident and required hospitalization?
“There is 10 girls working in the spa [who] went in jail. They stayed 3 months in jail.” - Fe
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