Kuwaiti fashion blogger Sondos Al Qattan came under the radar early this month for her racist remark on Filipino workers. Qattan—a well-known makeup expert with over 2.3 million followers on Instagram—criticised the government's move to change the law to recruit domestic workers from the Philippines.
Qattan posted a video criticising the government for altering the law which now gives the right for domestic workers to possess their passport and takes a day off in a week. Coming down heavily on the government, the makeup tutorial artist stated that the new law would result in exploitation by the employees and also added that it doesn't do any justice for the hefty sum employers pay to recruit the helpers.
Some of the questions that Qattan raised in the now-deleted video are: who will guarantee the employer's money if the helper runs away with the passport? If a helper is given a day off and if he/she vanishes, who will compensate the employer? Even after heavy criticism from all the quarters, Qattan stood by her words and posted another Instagram message clarifying her stand.
What are the changes made in new law?
The helper will work 12-hour a day with one hour break. He/she will be entitled to one day leave every week with an annual holiday of 22 days.
The helper must be provided with a return ticket to their home country every two years. While working, he/she must be provided with a mobile phone and internet connection.
The employer has no right to keep the employee's passport.
The helper should be provided with all basic amenities like food, accommodation, toiletries, health insurance and medical access.
The employer should pay $2,000 towards the helper's residency cost and an addition $2,000 as deposit to the government, which will be refunded after the contract expires.
In addition, the employer should also pay a sum to authorised Philippines agencies to employ a worker.
While all these new rules sound like a basic human rights, Qattan's comments and the backlash seem to have not gone well with her clients.
Cosmetic giant Max Factor, London-based cosmetic company Chelsea Boutique, France-based perfume brand M Micallef and Japanese personal care brand Shiseido have cut ties with the social media star for her racist thoughts.
On the derogatory remarks of Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Alqattan against Filipino household workers Migrante and SANDIGAN (Samahan ng mga DH sa Gitnang Silangan) vehemently condemns the degrading remarks made by Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Alqattan who ranted against giving day-offs to Filipino household workers and allowing them to keep their passports. By projecting herself as a slave-owner, Sondos exhibits intoxication in her overinflated ego and false sense of superiority. At a time when many all over the world are going to and fro online to acquire knowledge and access more information, Sondos should have known by now that workers have rights too and they deserve just and humane treatment from their employers. Instead, Sondos continues to cling to a backward outlook which literally belongs to the dark ages. We strongly demand that she offer public apology and genuinely express remorse for her disgusting statements. It would also be more valuable to her if she can visit the Philippines to witness for herself the appalling poverty that grips many Filipino families and find out what hardships OFWs had to go through in government agencies before they can finally be deployed abroad. There is no doubt that maltreatment of Filipinos in Kuwait and in many countries persist. What is even more outrageous is that the Duterte regime continues to act as a pimp who willingly furnishes foreign countries with cheap and docile workers from the Philippines to serve as cash cows for his pro-elite TRAIN and Build, Build, Build lunacy. An apology from Sondos will surely give respite to our offended netizens but what OFWs ultimately long for is the total elimination of the roots of forced migration. As long as the Duterte regime stubbornly refuses to impose a national minimum wage, end contractualization, pursue national industrialization and institute genuine agrarian reform in the Philippines, there will be more cases like that of Demafelis and we shall hear more grim stories in the future about OFWs being at the receiving end of insults and inhumane treatment overseas from cynics like Sondos Alqattan. #SondosAlQattan #boycottsondosalqattan
What really caused the outrage?
The issue came to the spotlight early this year after a murdered Filipino maid's body was found on the freezer in a Kuwaiti house. Following this, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a ban on workers travelling to Kuwait.
The issue deepened after Kuwaiti authorities expelled Manila's ambassador for allegedly helping workers to escape the country following mistreatment from employers. However, the diplomatic crisis came to an end after the two countries agreed to regulate the domestic labour industry.