Ruth Odima, Kenyan, contacted us on 8 September, 2018 because her employers, Bilal Bou Khaled and Meriam Kassem, hadn’t paid her since July 2017 and they’d had let her papers expire in 2017. Bilal kept telling her he’d got her a ticket to go home but when I rang the travel agent to check, she said they were only bookings and nothing had ever been paid for. Bilal had told Ruth to accept half of the $4000 she was owed and he would send the rest when she got home. We instructed her not to agree to this and that, under no circumstances, should she leave the country without full payment. Ruth sent us the following heartbreaking video filmed in secret:
We contacted Bilal. He was initially cooperative and made excuses about why Ruth hadn’t traveled but as time passed and he hadn’t sent her home, he became less co-operative and more aggressive.
He finally sent her home on the 18th September but with only $1500 and the promise to send the balance later. Following our instructions, Ruth tried to refuse to leave without her salary but she was forced to board. Due to the abuse she suffered at their hands, she was hospitalized soon after she arrived home.
Ruth contacted Meriam many, many times to try and get her money once she was home. This was her response:
Ruth was sexually harassed by Meriam’s father, treated like a dog, and sent home without $1,500 of her salary. The Filipino who worked for them before Ruth ran away. Now there is a new Ethiopian worker, and she has no access to a phone. What will happen to her? Will Ruth ever get her salary? She has appointed a lawyer in Lebanon but the judicial system is slow and seldom gives justice to domestic workers. Watch this space.