The president of the World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU), Ezzat N. Eid, told a news conference yesterday that his office in collaboration with some higher ups in government have been working behind the scenes to ensure the safe return of Liberian girls reportedly trafficked in Lebanon.
Mr. Eid, who could not deny or confirm whether the girls were sexually abused, however regretted the inhumane treatment they suffered in Lebanon.
He disclosed that there are over 500,000 house maids from all over the world that are currently residing in Lebanon that are being well cared for by their employers.
“We are against the abuse of any Liberian, be it man or woman, who is employed as a domestic worker or house maid,” Mr. Eid told reporters in Monrovia.
According to him, reports concerning the alleged trafficking of Liberians girls have troubled the entire Lebanese Community.
He said, efforts are being made, including efforts by his office in close collaboration with Liberian authorities to establish the exact number of girls involved and ensure their safe return.
At least eight of them have already returned to Liberia, he added.
“People that are working in Lebanon, especially foreigners who are from all over the world, are cherished by their Lebanese hosts, but if there is any problem with his or her employer, the matter is normally handled by the appropriate authorities,” he said.
As for the girls being held and ill-treated, Mr. Eid explained that some of the girls worked in domestic homes, noting that, “Full investigations are needed into the reports about those who were abused.”
Recently it was gathered that an indictment has been drawn against individuals involved in the alleged trafficking of the girls with promises of a better future in Lebanon.
Authorities at the Liberia National Police, the Ministries of Labor and Justice have all disclosed, following the return to Liberia of eight of the girls, that they are being kept at an unidentified location to avoid making of them a public spectacle.
The law provides that a person is guilty of the offense of trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling, and also for money laundering and terrorist financing when they subject a person to slavery.
A representative of the Liberian community in Lebanon recently said one of the remaining victims was picked up by armed military men in the middle of the night from her home and taken to an unknown destination, while some of the remaining girls were transported to dangerous and inaccessible locations.
The law also provides that an individual is guilty of trafficking when they subject another person to forced labor.
This newspaper learnt that when the girls were taken to Lebanon, they were marketed to their agents for around US$3,000 to US$3,500 each. It has also been established that they were used as “sex slaves; and subjected to forced labor, and other forms of slavery.”
Some of the girls revealed that they were physically assaulted whenever they refused to have sexual intercourse with their owners.
The girls further alleged that their passports and other travel documents were seized and they were denied communication with the outside world.