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Eleanore Couture Runs a House of Horror

Lensa, aged 20, Ethiopian, came to Lebanon last July to work for a family who have a well-known haute couture business. She joined two other workers already with the family, one who had not been there for long and the other who had worked for them for approximately four years. She says in the first recording on the Facebook page This Is Lebanon: “I was abused from the very beginning. I thought about escape but I was forbidden to go outside the house, even to the store.” She adds, “They were beating me every day with an electrical cord. They wrapped my hair around their hands and dragged me around the room and smashed my head into the walls. She (Crystel) was chasing me with the scissors and attacking me. The son (Joe) was pressing his fingers into my eyes and pulling my hair. Every day they were planning how to abuse me.” She adds that after her arrival, “I haven’t called my family and she (Eleanore) said that she sent money to Ethiopia after 6 months but I don’t know if she really did or not. I haven’t informed the embassy because the Ethiopian who has worked in the house for 4 years will tell the employer everything.”

The Lebanese friend of Lensa’s aunt, who has been following the details of the case and trying to help the aunt, confirmed that in the six months following the time of Lensa’s arrival in Lebanon the aunt  tried to contact Lensa via the owner of the business but Lensa’s employer didn’t let her speak to her and said she was busy and not to call again. Afterward, the aunt received a call from the mother in Ethiopia saying that they hadn’t received any money or heard any news from Lensa.

The Day of the Incident

In the first video, in which Lensa details her abuse, she says that the son “kicked me before he went out.” And he threatened her that if  she hadn’t done enough sewing when he returned an hour and a half later, “you will see what I will do.” Then Lensa decided, according to the video, “to escape before he returned to the house to hurt me.”

Lensa’s escape (jumping from the second floor) took place on 11 March. She was immediately transferred to Serhal Hospital. She remained there about two weeks. Afterward, she returned to her employer’s house. The Lebanese friend of Lensa’s aunt says that “When the girl was in the hospital a Lebanese woman had compassion on her and brought her juice, which lead to a problem with the employers who told the Lebanese woman not to interfere and that she had no business giving anything to the girl. The woman then withdrew from any contact with her and asked an Ethiopian girl who was caring for an elderly man in the hospital to contact her since the situation seemed strange.” Lensa managed to give the Ethiopian girl her mother’s number who then contacted the aunt in Lebanon. The aunt received the call on 19 March and went at night to the hospital with domestic workers of the same nationality. Afterward, the aunt was forbidden to visit Lensa when she went to the hospital a number of times.

Lensa later retracted her testimony and in a second video, recorded in her employer’s house, said she loves the family and the family love her and she only recorded the first video as a way of getting back to Ethiopia. Her aunt has been allowed one closely-supervised visit since her return to the house during which members of the family were present. No one else has been able to get access to Lensa since. She is currently (as of 14 April) still a captive in the house unable to communicate with anyone outside.

In response to Lensa’s opportunity to share her story, Crystel Khalil at Eleanore Couture desperately attempted to squash the story from getting traction. She went on LBC and forced Lensa to make a false confession.

Al Jadeed joined the long line of complicit onlookers to Lensa’s slavery and abuse. They wheeled Lensa’s hospital bed into the studio to be humiliated on live tv.

Before Al Jadeed ran their propaganda, we contacted them and gave them a video from Lensa’s Aunt, backing up Lensa’s testimony. Eleanore Couture runs a House of Horrors.

Afterward, many brave Lebanese activists and workers gathered in front of Eleanore Couture to protest the Kafala system and Lensa’s captivity.

Finally, we received word from Lensa’s mother. She begged Eleanore Couture to send Lensa home, with or without payment. She just wants to see her daughter again. She is very distressed because Lensa has communicated with her that Eleanore Couture has threated to send her home as a corpse.

Throughout this process, many journalists have written about this issue. We hope that Eleanore Couture hears this and decides to free Lensa. Join us in this campaign: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsLebanon961/

In the News

About Dipendra Uprety

Dipendra Uprety was born in Nepal in 1980. In 1998, aged 18, he moved to Lebanon where he was employed in the hospitality industry. While in Lebanon he met and married Priya, a domestic worker, also from Nepal. Together, they were involved in voluntarily assisting the Nepalese community by visiting ill-treated and battered domestic workers in the hospitals and prisons.Because of Dipendra’s work, he was made a representative of the Nepali Consulate. His wife continued activism and volunteered with the consulate. In 2012, they emigrated to Canada where they have continued to be active in fighting for human rights and justice for migrant domestic workers.

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