“They smashed my head into the walls. Every hour there was some form of torture.”
Lensa Lelisa Tufa arrived in Lebanon from Ethiopia in July 2017 to work for Eleanore Ajami, a high-end fashion designer and owner of Eleanore Couture. The brand is known internationally, and its dresses have been worn by a host of high-profile celebrities, including singer Carrie Underwood and X-Men star Lana Condor.
As she states in multiple testimonies, 21-year old Lensa was abused from the very beginning of her time in Lebanon. She says she was beaten up daily by her employers who threatened that if she didn’t finish her work quickly enough, she would be beaten further.
Lensa says: “They beat me every day with an electric cable and wrapped my hair around their hands and dragged me around the room. They smashed my head into the walls. Every hour there was some form of torture.”
“As long as you are in my country, I can do what ever I want to you” – Eleanore Couture
Upon arrival, Lensa says that she spoke to her family once and then wasn’t allowed to contact them for 4 months. Her employer, Eleanore Ajami, told Lensa after six months that she had sent her salary directly to her family in Ethiopia, although she never showed her any proof of this. And because Lensa wasn’t allowed to contact her family, there was no way to verify what Eleanore was saying.
In the six months following her arrival in Lebanon, Lensa’s aunt, Ganet, who also worked in Beirut, tried to contact her via Eleanor Ajami. But each time Ganet called, Eleanore told her Lensa was too busy to talk, and not to call again. Ganet meanwhile received a call from Lensa’s mother in Ethiopia, saying she hadn’t received any money or heard any news from Lensa.