A Kuwaiti Instagram star has sparked outrage by criticising moves to give Filipina “servants” one day off per week.
Makeup artist Sondos Alqattan also criticised the new employment regulations for allowing domestic workers to keep possession of their own passports.
Speaking in a viral video, she said: “The new laws that have been passed are like a pathetic film.
“For her to take a day off every week, that’s four days a month. Those are the days that she’ll be out. And we don’t know what she’ll be doing on those days, with her passport on her.” Alqattan has 2.3 million followers on Instagram.
Before the new regulations came into force, it was routine for Kuwaiti employers to confiscate the passports of their domestic workers.
“How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them?” asked an incredulous Alqattan.
The reforms to Kuwaiti regulations for Filipino domestic workers came after a diplomatic spat between the Philippines and the Gulf state.
Following the murder of a Filipina maid in the country earlier this year, President Duterte placed a suspension on Filipino workers travelling to the country.
As we reported in January, the body of Joanna Demafelis, aged 29, was discovered stuffed into the freezer of her Lebanese employer and his Syrian wife. Kuwaiti authorities have since sentenced the couple to death.
Following the shocking discovery of the maid’s body, the president said: “I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here.” He also threatened “drastic steps” to protect Filipinos working abroad.
Alqattan’s comments have sparked outrage from social-media users who called on beauty products promoted by the online star to disown her.
“Her expensive stuff and pretty face cannot mask her rotten attitude. Shame on that lady. #sondosalqattan #moderndayslavery,” wrote Filipino Facebook user Jaja Caringal.
“What’s ‘pathetic’ is that you look at domestic workers with such a superior attitude,” wrote Kuwaiti Twitter user Mutamarrida.
Kuwaiti working laws
Of more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, at least 60 per cent are domestic workers who live and work in the homes of their employers.
Overall, more than half of all Philippine domestic workers are in the Middle East where a controversial Shariah-based sponsorship system, called ‘Kefala’, dictates their working conditions.
Under Kefala, domestic workers cannot leave the country or change jobs without their employers’ consent — which is notoriously difficult to secure.
Human rights groups have also warned that it can encourage harsh working conditions and unchecked abuse.