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Kuwait social media star unapologetic after backlash over Filipino maid comments
July 24, 2018, 10:24 am

Kuwaiti social media star has remained unapologetic on Monday over comments she made against new laws aimed at improving conditions for Filipino domestic workers, despite a backlash on the internet. Sondos Al Qattan faces criticism for a video posted on July 10 to Instagram, where she has 2.3 million followers, in which she attacked measures introduced in May that grant Filipinas working in the  Gulf state one day off per week and prevent employers from keeping their passports.

Global brands working with the social media influencer have begun to cut ties with her. Qattan, known for her internet make-up tutorials, told AFP by phone that the outcry was "unjustified" and did not require an apology. "All I said was that the employer was entitled to keep the servant's passport, and that many Kuwaitis and Gulf nationals agree with me," said Qattan.

"I have the right as a kafil (sponsor) to keep my employee's passport, and I am responsible for paying a deposit of up to KD1,500," she said. Qattan insisted the practices are not an "insult to the employee and do not concern humanity or human rights because I did not deprive the employee of her salary or beat her".

"The servant lives in the house just like the owners, he eats the same food, sleeps, rests and goes out shopping... this is a natural right. He's not like a waiter who works fixed hours, so we give him a weekly leave," she added. Qattan's comments in the now deleted clip sparked outrage on social media, with many Twitter and Instagram users calling on brands that work with the makeup artist to sever ties.

Migrante International, an advocacy outfit for Filipinos working overseas, called on Qattan to apologize and likened her comments to those of a slave owner.

On May 11, Kuwait and Manila signed an agreement regulating domestic labor, following a diplomatic crisis that led to a ban on Filipino workers going to work in Kuwait.

In February, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers travelling to Kuwait after a Filipina maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.

The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila's ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.


Source: Gulf News

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