The Kafāla System: Gender and Migration in Contemporary Lebanon


  • Dimitra Dermitzaki
  • Sylvia Riewendt Georg-August-University Göttingen



Labour Law, Lebanon, Kafala, slavery, Migration, Gender


With an estimated 250,000 migrant domestic workers (MDW), migrant women perform household chores normally assigned to Lebanese women in their own households. Since labor laws do not apply to MDWs, MDW from the Global South in particular are affected by exploitative regulations under the Kafāla system. Due to gender-specific aspects of migration and asylum and gendered and racialized labor division, they inevitably become a focus of public interest. This paper conducts an overview of Lebanese gendered and racialized labor laws under Kafāla based on a materialist theory, analyzing a range of local NGOs that address MDW’s rights.


Dimitra Dermitzaki

Dimitra Dermitzaki is a Political Scientist and Anthropologist based in Berlin and currently a researcher at the German Center for Integration and Migration Studies. She received her B.A. diploma in Political Science and Anthropology from Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and graduated with an MA in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin in 2019 with focus on migration, the EU border and asylum policy, gender specific aspects of labor division and migration and post-colonialism. Her research interests include migration, postcolonial and gender studies, Marxism-Feminism with a wide interest on the Mediterranean and West Asia and the effects of austerity policy on contemporary Greek society. As political educator, she is regularly teaching workshops and lectures on materialist feminism, migration and EU regulations and postcolonialism and anti-racism.

Sylvia Riewendt, Georg-August-University Göttingen

Sylvia Riewendt is a PhD candidate in Arabic/Middle Eastern Studies and a freelance translator based in Wiesbaden. She received her B.A. diploma in Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies from Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg. In 2016, she graduated with a M.A. in Arabic/Islamic Studies with a focus on Islamic Law from Georg-August-University Göttingen. Since 2016 she is writing her PhD thesis about Children‘s Rights and Society in Egypt. Her research interests include Human, Children‘s and Women‘s rights on an international, regional and national level, Gender Studies, Feminism, Islamic Law and legal developments in West Asia and North Africa.





Dermitzaki, D., und S. Riewendt. „The Kafāla System: Gender and Migration in Contemporary Lebanon“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 14, Juli 2020, S. 89-102, doi:10.17192/meta.2020.14.8255.