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Linda Al-Kalash

Jordan , Class of 2010

Linda Al-Kalash

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Whether it is bringing cases to court, or providing basic legal assistance, Linda Al-Kalash and her NGO fight against forced labor.

She graduated from the University of Cairo, and moved to Jordan. It was there, in 2007, that she opened Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Human Rights, which is now called Tamkeen Fields for Aid. Tamkeen, in Arabic, means empowerment. As that name suggests, her organization provides legal assistance in order to pursue the defense of human rights in Jordan. Within 10 months of opening their doors, they had been overrun with over 200 complaints of forced labor situations. They began working diligently on these cases, screening them, providing what assistance they could, and either filed or helped to file lawsuits or criminal charges in over 20 cases. Two of these cases broke new ground when they attempted to bring to justice employers who had mistreated and abused their employees. The cases involved workers who had been sexually assaulted, detained, abused, and who had not been given their pay. Twenty of the cases that she helped bring to court involved wages that had not been paid or had been withheld. She won every one of those twenty cases, and was able to secure payment, and the return of travel documents for several of the workers who were migrants.

Despite threats to her life, the life of her staff, and others associate with her, Linda Al-Kalash has continued to fight, using the legal system, trafficking in all of its forms. She was given a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero Award in 2010 for her efforts to combat modern-day slavery. Tamkeen still fights for human rights and against human trafficking in Jordan. They have deepened their advocacy work, alongside their case work, and continue to reach out through their programs. They currently work with migrant workers, human trafficking victims, and on Jordan’s compliance with international human rights treaty standards. Through the last five years since being given the award, Tamkeen helped and is trying to help more than 2000 migrants. Their advocacy work includes legal advocacy, as the primary mission of Tamkeen is to defend migrant workers’ rights by providing legal aid exclusively to migrants, preparing annual reports about the status of migrant workers in the country, engaging in dialogue with authorities and lobbying to discuss forms of violation that the migrant workers face in Jordan.

Ms. Al-Kalash leads a team of lawyers, researchers, and advocates to combat human Trafficking, as well as working with countries of origin to improve cooperation. In 2013 , Tamkeen formed Arab Network for Migrant’s Rights, ANMR, to gather efforts to protect the rights of migrants in Arab region. ANMR has members from UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain. In December 2011, Tamkeen was selected as one of five organizations awarded the French republic Human Rights Prize for its role in protecting the rights of female migrant workers.

In the 2014 TIP Report, Jordan was listed as a Tier 2 Country. It is a destination and a transit country for forced labor, and some sex trafficking. Much trafficking and abuse occurs to domestic migrant workers in Jordan, still today. Syrian refugees are also vulnerable to trafficking. The government officially established their first shelter in February 2014.

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Forced Labor