Domestic workers have rights, too.
This seems to be the rallying cry of netizens who were outraged by the statements of Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Alqattan, who reportedly posted a video where she complained about Kuwait’s new laws that aim to give Filipino domestic workers better working conditions.
Alqattan didn’t like the idea that domestic workers will be allowed to keep their passports. Her rant, which was originally in Arabic, went: “[H]ow can you have a servant in your house that gets to keep their passport with them? Where are we living? If they ran away and went back to their country, who will refund me?”
She also took issue with the requirements that domestic workers be given days off. According to the website Stepfeed, she said: “Even worse, is that they get a day off every single week! What’s left? Honestly, with this new contract, I just wouldn’t ‘get’ a Filipino ‘maid.’ She’d only work six days a week and get four days off a month.”
Naturally, her comments have sparked outrage. On the Facebook page of Turkish channel TRT World, where a video was posted summarizing the controversy, several netizens were obviously angered by the influencer, who often posts photos of herself using skincare and other beauty products.
Sahar Refair wanted to do something violent. She wrote: “I wish I can slap her over and over again until her makeup is removed.”
Raza Assam wrote: “So now we know what’s under the makeup.”
Kevin Obrien wrote: “[S]ome people are so poor all they have is money.”
Introducing herself as a Filipino, Meecha Toverada wrote: “I am saddened to hear this news. If these people has (sic) a choice, they wouldn’t choose to go there and work abroad away from their family. It’s just that, even [if] they [want to] work hard [in the Philippines], they don’t have the opportunity. If you treat us right, we will treat you BETTER. What this woman said was too inhumane and I hope she’ll give her apology.”
Ahmedey Maalim wrote: “If all Filipino workers decide to go back to their country how wil[l] she live without [a] maid because she dont (sic) know even how to raise her young kids [laughing emoji].
Alqattan has disabled the comments from her Instagram account following the controversy.
Although it has since been lifted, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had banned the deployment of workers to Kuwait, following the murder of Joanna Demafelis, whose dead body was found in a freezer.
According to overseas Filipino workers’ groups based in the Gulf country, around 120 Filipino workers have died in Kuwait in 2017, many of which were reported as suicides.
Following the diplomatic row between the Philippines and Kuwait, the latter allowed Filipino workers to be exempted from the controversial Kafala system.
An archaic Middle Eastern law, the system prevents workers from terminating their contracts without their employers’ consent. Human rights organizations said the law has led to widespread abuse.