Mariam (center), Mariam (left), Sallay Jalloh (back) and Zainab (right) are posing for a portrait in a room on the apartment where they are living with more girls that escaped from the Kafala System in Lebanon. All of them have come from Sierra Leone in recent years, all dreaming of a better life in another country and being able to help their families by sending them money. Most of them have children and elderly dependents in Sierra Leone who depend on their income.
Even with the attempt of some countries to ban this type of exchange of girls through intermediary agents between African countries and others in the Middle East, this agents have found other ways with intermediate countries that can help them reach their final destination. It is common and well-known that some of the girls who arrive in Lebanon from African countries with bans on sending domestic workers, do so through Syria, from where they cross the border by car or on foot to enter the country.

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Escaping the Kafala System

Adri Salido | Lebanon

The Kafala System is a system of modern slavery is still present in several countries of the Middle East such as Lebanon or Jordan. These women, who are sent from their countries of origin, Sierra Leone in the case of those who appear in the images, are deprived of all human rights upon arrival in Beirut, having their passports and phones taken away so that they cannot escape or contact anyone. They are transferred by intermediary agents to their future sponsors, who in many cases refuse to ever pay their salary and on many occasions abuse them physically and sexually. This system is well established in Lebanon, with the authorities turning a blind eye to what is happening, and so far, none of the numerous attempts at ending the practice succeeded.
Due to the psychological pressure to which they are subjected, many of the workers flee their owners, seeking help from local NGOs that try to send them back to their countries to reunite with their families. Others, however, are less lucky and die at the hands of their owners or commit suicide.

Adri Salido (Girona, Spain 1989) is a photojournalist and videographer based in Aljezur, Portugal, working on daily news and long-term projects focused on social issues and human rights. Graduated in Communication Sciences (UOC, Barcelona), Salido has been working in different countries in eastern Europe and Middle East such as Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Ukraine or Moldova recently.


Nowadays, Adria is a member of the Col·legi de Periodistes de Catalunya and works as a freelancer for international agencies, newspapers, and magazines including Getty Images, Anadolu Agency, Panorama, Bloomberg, GEO magazine among others.


Salido’s images have been exhibited in different festivals worldwide including Visa Pour l’Image 2020 (Perpignan) and has been selected as Coup de Coeur 2020 by Association Nationale des Iconographes for the reportage Crossing Borders.

Adria is affiliated as a member of IFJ and with the journalist card E6919.

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