Malek Maktabi’s Story of Zainab & Her Sri Lankan Mother Deepa Is A Disgrace To The Lebanese State

I am angry. Nay, angry is an understatement, I am livid. Anger wasn’t the only thing I felt yesterday. I was also deeply ashamed to be a citizen of a country where the story that Malek Maktabi’s show, in a rare instance of journalistic integrity, portrayed not only could happen, but is probably part of a bigger array of stories just waiting to be told.

The story, summarized, is as follows:

In 1991, Deepa Darmasiri was a Sri Lankan working as a housekeeper at a Lebanese household in the South. The husband in the household she was working in, whose name was always bleeped out and never mentioned, one day raped Deepa at knife-point, leading her to become pregnant.

Deepa did not want to get an abortion because she “never could imagine not meeting her child.” So she carried the baby to term. To make his rape legal and to be able to register the baby, that scumbag of a man exercised his religiously given right to polygamy and married Deepa.

Once Deepa gave birth, he took the baby girl whom he named Zainab – Deepa wanted to name her Huda – and got the mother deported back to her country, never to see or hear from her daughter ever again.

The story of a Lebanese daughter searching for her Sri Lankan mother is a heartbreaking reminder of how horrifying Lebanese patriarchy is. What’s worse is that Zainab is not a lone example of the disgusting state that our demented patriarchal laws have led us to.

Deepa is a victim on so many levels. She’s a victim for being a woman living in a country (and a world in the bigger sense) that sees her gender as inferior, both actually and legally. She’s a victim of Lebanese personal status law, placing her as inferior to her husband in all regards, even in the matter of him being able to divorce her as easily as he did, leading her to getting deported. She’s the victim of being from a nationality that we, as a country, deem as lesser. Because, you know, we as Lebanese are the creme de la creme and everyone else be damned.

Side note: Sri Lanka has better infrastructure than this dismal country currently has and will probably have for years to come. They have faster internet, 24/7 electricity, better water coverage and their women are more equal to men. But please, tell me more about how we think they’re inferior because they come work here in jobs we would never partake in, or because they’re black, or maybe because they’re not originally Phoenicians, or because any nationality that is not White and Western is one that we look down to thinking we are so much better.

News flash: we are not. Not even close. Deepa’s story shows how rotten to the core this country is.

Get this: we live in a country where a man was able to rape, impregnate, have the woman carry the child to term, take her baby away, have her deported NEVER to be able to come back again and still roam free.

Why? Because this is Lebanese patriarchy. This is how it works. Men are always superior. Lebanese are superior to non-Lebanese especially if those non-Lebanese don’t have a strong country to be able to defend them, and it’s just disgraceful. How is this man considered a human being, I wouldn’t know. He’s an abomination, pure and simple. Not only is that man still roaming free, never seeing a jail cell in his life for all the disgusting things he’s done, but he’s also probably protected by some politician down South that makes him impenetrable.

The disgraceful thing is that what he did was not illegal according to Lebanese law. He was perfectly within his rights as a man to do what he did to Deepa and to her daughter Zainab.

How horrifying is it that this man overpowered a helpless migrant worker, raped her, violated ALL her rights, her only fault being coming to this country to seek a better future for herself?

How horrifying is it that this man didn’t care in the least about his daughter, about the fact he brought her into this world as a result of raping a helpless woman after holding a knife to her throat?

How horrifying is it that Deepa had no one to run to, no one to help her, that our ministries of social affairs and labor wouldn’t have cared about her plight, about the fact she was violated that way?

Zainab and Deepa’s story is precisely why our laws need to be changed and I hope it provides the much needed catalyst for NGOs dealing with migrant workers to have a louder platform from which to proclaim their very rightful demands.

We cannot and should not be allowed to have an upper hand over workers who come from any country in the world just because they are coming to work here. We cannot and should not be allowed to have our men hold an upper hand over our women or any women wherever they come from, just because they happened to be born with a set of XY chromosomes.

We cannot and should not allow anyone to do what that scumbag did and still be allowed to roam free, unchecked and unpunished. As long as our laws allow them too, some men will do what this creature did, and others have probably done so plenty of times already. How many more Zainbas are out there because our state has enabled the perpetuation of this, because of our patriarchy and our sense that we are better than other “lesser” nationalities? It’s just disgraceful, and shameful.

What’s even more shameful are those who were bothered by this topic being discussed, under the pretext that it’s not New Year’s Eve material. Wake the hell up. This is a reality that is part of this wretched country every single day. You getting sad for a few seconds is upsetting you? You realizing this country’s laws are messed up to say the least is distressing you and ruining your party spirit? Deepa and her daughter Zainab never had any New Year Eves together because of the apathy of people like you.

42 days after she met her daughter, Deepa passed away probably from cancer. She couldn’t be flown to Lebanon to spend the remainder of her days with her daughter because getting a Lebanese visa to a Sri Lankan is near-impossible. This goes back again to our country thinking it’s better than others while our own citizens beg at the door of embassies for visas for other countries to seek out better futures.

I commend Malek Maktabi on his work with Zainab and Deepa’s story, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t stop at it being a NYE special to get viewers worked up. This should be as daily a conversation as possible, to hopefully reach a place where Lebanon’s state doesn’t perpetuate the existence of more Zainabs and more Deepas.

Deepa Darmasiri, rest in peace you beautiful gorgeous human being.


32 thoughts on “Malek Maktabi’s Story of Zainab & Her Sri Lankan Mother Deepa Is A Disgrace To The Lebanese State

  1. It’s not just the Lebanese state that is the problem…it’s the mentality prevalent here. The state represents the way so many Lebanese view migrant female workers from developing countries- as fair prey for our men, not for marriage or long-term relationships of course, but for a quick fix when needed.

  2. I, an American of Lebanese descent, read this post admidst tears I am so sad and angry I will share this story here in the US – I hope and pray that Lebanon will change

    • pray for America before you pray for any other country. While you share this story in America share with us all the stories of the 683.000 rapes that occur each year against women in the United States of America.

      • Except that there are 300 000 000 people in the US and only 4000 000 in Lebanon which makes the rape proportions much worse in Lebanon so look it up before talking about stuff you know nothing about.Besides racism is openly expressed in Lebanon and humiliation is encouraged by the people.

  3. Thank you for writing this, at least to give this unfortunate woman some respect and dignity. I am so sad and angry and felt ashamed of being Lebanese, belonging to a country that treats humans unequally and let’s criminals like this man run lose. I am disgusted and angry at what happened to this woman, at how anyone is allowed to ruin a human life just like that. I don’t know if there are any institutions or NGOs working on these laws to be changed, or if anyone cares anyways! If I was Zainab I would take legal action against this criminal.

  4. As an American and Foreigner who married a Lebanese man and moved to the country, I fell in love with the people but not the shame of always being a second class citizen to the fact that most of the men who always gawk at and treat women as meat and with so little respect and this was a Christian man and after I left him I was forced to sign away any right to any property accumulated and was promised in words to get back the only thing I wanted my inheritance that built the house he now lives in and didn’t get that either as I was told by my son I “defaulted” any rights when I left. It was liking being kicked twice once for standing up for my self-respect and dignity and then twice by my only son as he thought as I walked away I deserved nothing 😦 I sacrificed over 20 years of being disrespected and pushed aside only to walk away with my dignity and not only lost an ignorant man but I now am separated from a son who has the same mindset.

    • It is so sad, my heart goes out to you. If only we could educate our children about these different cultures and the risk they are taking when entering into a marriage contract with an alterntive culture. Maybe you can begin lobbying and educating the current generation of children, you may just well save some kids from the same terrible future as your own trauma. Maybe you can collect together victims similar to yourself and put your experience into educating our young ones. The fact your son took it on himself to use the miserable discrimination against women in order to secure his inheritance I imagine and the fact you his own mother are worthless in his eyes should stir up some sense in the young ones to not enter into such a contract with an alternative culture regardless of all the sweet promises and sweet affections. At the end of the day, once you marry into an alternative culture from the middle east, you sign away all your rights that your existing country fought so hard to put in place for you.
      You can turn your trauma into someone else’s knowledge and give them the power to not repeat this miserable trust of lies that led you in the first place to be used and abused. May you be blessed twice over with prosperity for all you have lost, and may God reside within your heart so that his love in you can empower a multitude out of this terrible trauma.
      So often Christian or Muslim or whatever religiion is just a title of birth place and what your parents come from, rather than a practising faith of love and humility as it is meant to be.
      All the best to you.

    • I spent a lot of years in Lebanon and I am still married to Lebanese but separated. I can only say, all these stories of open-minded and beautiful country in ME, happy people, good food, partying bla bla bla. It is rotten. It s country with sick minded people. Pretenders who think they are the best nation, the best nation covered by garbage. No respect for humans, no respect for any spiritual higher emotion. Materialistic driven society, with money you can even buy the God.

      • Most Lebanese are not like you describe. You are upset understandingly about your experience but to vent by painting all of us in the same brush is not fair and is simply childish. Yes there are bad people there just like in every country but they are the minority and definitely do not represent the majority is us.

        • People should change behaviour in order to get Lebanon back. I agree, every country do have bad people indeed. I am just shocked to see that every single aspect in the country is watched and looked through money. As I said even the higher spirit (universe) is looked through the money. I still have so many good friends in Lebanon but the country and people are without identity. Money talks only.

    • So sorry for you…I lived in Lebanon for two years under different circumstances but could see your case among some friends of mine and couldn’t remain surrounded by this shameless patriarchy for more than the time I did…so sorry for you but at least you are out of there and hopefully your son will come to his senses…one day!

  5. to the writer of this story and that idiot presenter who started believing he’s on 60 minutes and initiated the idiotic reactions: To the women/men who joined the “shameful feeling” of being Lebanese….. STOP bitching about Lebanon and the system. If you are so annoyed and shamed, get off your big butts from behind your computer screens of Facebook and Twitter and just do something about it, and for the love of God STOP posting this garbage about your country. It’s YOUR country after all… if you don’t like it just leave. Maybe you should consider going to live in Sri Lanka where you will enjoy the faster internet and 24/7 electricity and water supply, and be more equal to men, and enjoy a better government system, and you will show real empathy for the poor workers who chose to be abused in Lebanon. Go do something about improving the system in your country instead of trying to show how fluent you are in English language on the pages of Facebook. What a showoff pathetic people…

      • Tfeh? u really believe that u r something now don’t u? It’s not ur fault it’s the fault of the people who read stupid disgusting writings like urs… Lebanon doesn’t want u and the idiots who write these articles…Tfeh 3leik w 3ala ayltak ya zabr… that’s the language that suits u faggot

        • exactly because of the people like you, I left Lebanon. Money lovers fake plastic society! No respect for the planet Earth!

        • looks like my reply made YOU angry…… did u say “less IQ”? hehehehe what a joke u r to believe that u r smarter than other people….. u r pathetic and I really pity u … by looking at how u react to the bloggers’ comments, everyone can see that u r a person with an inferiority complex, and a sick personality who is angry at everything and can only express himself by criticizing everything in this idiotic blog to make him emerge as a “Somebody”… a small advice: next time u wanna to type “Tfeh”, remove it from ur face coz a lot of “Tfehs” are being spit on u.

          • Usually all those insults you hurled at me are proportional to the person using them. Thank you for the good laughs! Looks like you have nothing better in life to do. 😀

  6. Why are you only emphasizing on lebanon. This is a world wide epidemic and not all people are alike. There will always be that guy and that girl that will do shameful and disgusting acts. Why make it a Lebanese thing and that only lebanese do it. Not all men see women as meat and you cannot change that fact. If you believe that God has created everyone equal than you’re stupid to think that is even remotely true. Wake up people and stop bitching about everything happening in this world. This is the world we are living in, with the rape, killing, poverty, hunger, and racism. You cannot cure what thousands of years did to us. The simple truth is the strong will prey on the weak and that has been a fact since the creation of man. Humans are not perfect and will never be. It’s no a Lebanese thing so stop making lebanon look bad for something that happens in every country on earth. You are just attention craving wh**** who have more than enough time on ur hands instead of finding a purpose in life.

    • Except that only arab countries see women as items whose only purpose is to bear children and cant even pass their worthless nationality to their children. You may tell them to leave because you’re butthurt and can’t handle the truth, but people like you are the cause to this mess… The politicians steal our money, don’t give us basic human rights like water and electricity yet you worship them like gods… How long are you gonna turn a blind eye to this crime? Lebanese women you’d better leave that shithole if things dont get any better.

  7. In my opinion, this happens everywhere and all around the entire world. It has nothing to do with being a Lebanese or Lebanon.
    The real problem, is whether we are humans or WHAT? If you noticed, I didn’t say : whether we are humans or animals. Would you like to know why??? Because animals would never do such an act!!!
    Man ( a human being) is, in some cases, cannot be compared to any imaginable species. We can only ask Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to keep these ” atrocities ” far away from us and ours. May God help and protect each and everyone of us.
    Unfortunately, this is our world.

  8. I am writing this comment while sitting on a terrace surrounded by lush greenery listening to the sound of waves breaking after having had a seafood meal and fresh exotic fruit juice for under 10$ served by an extremely amazing and wonderfully spirited lady in a small town in the south of Sri Lanka.
    This is my third trip in one year. I have to admit I would give up Lebanon and the Lebanese in an instant to live here in one of the most beautiful countries in the world inly made so by the amazing spirit of the Sri Lankan people.
    Every Sri Lankan is well aware of Lebanon because every family has had at least a member work in Lebanon. I am always reluctant to say I am Lebanese because the possibility if the mother/sister/aunt/niece /cousin was mistreated/respected/violated such as that of Zainab’s mother Deepa, may she Rest in Peace.
    FYI 3 hours on the highway there wasnt a single piece of tissue paper thrown on the side of the road.

    I dont think there is a solution to the racist mindset of Lebanese. I will likely move here and live amongst self respecting lovely people.

  9. I am a Lebanese woman who married a European man. I am happy that I am not bound by religious sectarian laws that govern the rights of Lebanese women who choose to marry Lebanese men. Here, in the European country I live in, the court takes care or personal matters, and all people are equal, whether they are men, women, black, white, homosexuals, you name it. Human beings are human beings. The people of the Gulf and the Middle East (including Israel) do not understand that. The area we live in, the area of holly lands, is a jinxed area. Religion makes you stupid, bigoted, closed-minded, you name it. Check out the bible Belt in The US, as well as other countries calling themselves liberal in the Middle East, and see for yourselves.
    The whole area is F—– U–.

  10. Yes this story is sad and unexceptable but how many of us Lebanese people have workers that we treat like gold. The comments people wrote shocked me and made me feel like we are racist pigs and i feel like it painted all Lebanese people with the same brush. Where is the man who commited these crimes? How do we know this imformation is all true? America has 683,000 women who claim they were raped ever year can alot of these claims be untrue? How about the workers that acctually come here and abuse the law? we as a household have had two who ran away one who stole enough things from our home to be sentenced to 10 years in jail in some countries, witnessed a couple abuseing kids around me several times. I mean give me a break every country has problems but this article made be puke. Police officers are killing black people in the U.S because the color of their skin. I think we as a nation are doing pretty well being a country who has gone through hell and back literally. If any other country had no president for 5 hours they would eat eachothers flesh. This is my own opinion no one has to agree with it. I just felt offended being a person who tries to treat foreigners better then my own self because i know how it feels to live in a country where your a minority.

    • issue is that Lebanon as country, as Gov…. etc do not respect any law or better to say they do not respect humans. all respect is just for God made from money and gold, full stop. yes, in all countries you have issues but then Gov is there to protect or nothing else people will go to street to protect and raise their voice. how many christian lebanese will go on street to protect other religion. or excuse me how many lebanese will join armenians on 24 april. even i heard horrible stories that lebanese forces would forbid armenians to walk through their areas. even in Turkey they gather on taksim square every year. excuse me, Lebanon needs big time change!

  11. These stories are difficult to read they are so tragic. The attitudes that allow for this stuff to happen are nothing short of medieval. The law may be on these mens side but can’t they see how morally bankrupt it makes them look. These men have no honor and the law needs to step up to protect women. I hope that law gets changed soon.

  12. This article has really touched a sensitive issue that i personally can relate to.
    I also want my story to be told but i don’t whom to approach.
    Here’s the summary of my story
    My mother is filipina, my dad is lebanese.
    I lived all my 28 years in lebanon
    Then in 2012 i got deported to the philippines, a country i’ve never set foot on before, and i don’t know anyone
    Till today i’m stuck here, not knowing if i would ever see my family again, my mother passed away on 2014 in lebanon and i wasn’t by her side
    My brother and sister, the only family i have left are still in lebanon
    All this just because my father didn’t give me his last name, never married my mother
    Therefore i was never able to get the lebanese ID
    And lived all my life in lebanon my country as an illegal alien
    I was a victim of rape when i was 13, but i couldn’t file a case because i was an illegal alien
    I’ve been stopped at 7awajez and several times brought to police stations and sometimes even slept for a couple of nights in makhefer at the age of 17, then i would be released by either bribing an official, or the officer in charge releases me out of pitty after hearing my story
    I was punished and treated like a criminal for sins i never commited.
    My father should have been in those jail cells instead of me.
    He abandoned us and denied me of my rights
    I’m already 32yrs old and i’m still uncertain about my life because I’m still hoping one day i can return to my country lebanon, and be with my family.
    I know that Lebanon is all messed up right now, and that many Lebanese would really prefer to leave the country.
    But there’s a difference between choosing to leave Lebanon, and being forced out of your homeland.

  13. Very well said Elie Fares and may Deepa rest in peace. Mind you… What goes around comes around and this man will pay the price, one day. I am sure Zainab will take him to court and hopefully the rulling out will put him in jail for a long time. Zainab may God bless you and your family. I have to say that Zainab’s husband was a great help, too. God bless both.


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