A Comparative Analysis of the Femicide of Migrant Domestic Workers in Bahrain and Lebanon

The Systemic Abuse of Foreign Female Labourers

  • Marya Al-Hindi
Keywords: Femicide, Gender-based Violence, Migrant Workers, Middle East, Kafala System


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.