A social media influencer from Kuwait has sparked outrage online after criticizing new laws that seek to provide better conditions for the Filipino domestic helpers working in her country.
Instagram star Sondos Alqattan, who has more than 2 million followers, recently posted a video in which she ranted against reforms introduced in May, Inquirer reports.
The new provisions give Filipino workers one day off per week and allow them to keep their passports instead of surrendering them to their employers.
“How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them? What’s worse is they have one day off every week,” Alqattan said in a now-viral video.
In her post, which drew some backlash from both the Middle East and the Philippines, Alqattan expressed her displeasure, stating that she’d rather not have a maid from the Philippines work for her.
“If they run away and go back to their country, who will refund me? Honestly, I disagree with this law. I don’t want a Filipino maid anymore,” she was quoted as saying.
Migrante International, a group advocating for the rights of overseas Filipino workers, compared Alqattan to “a slave owner” clinging “to a backward outlook which literally belongs to the dark ages.”
Netizens have since called for the Instagrammer’s sponsors to drop lucrative endorsement deals as a penalty for her actions.
Earlier this year, the Philippines temporarily banned the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, after the mutilated body of a 29-year-old Filipina worker was discovered inside a freezer in her employer’s apartment.
Tensions increased months later after a video featuring officials conducting a rescue of citizens from Kuwaiti employers accused of abuse. The incident led to Kuwait’s expulsion of the Philippine ambassador and the withdrawal of its own ambassador from Manila.
To ease tensions between the two countries, officials from both sides signed an agreement in May which would require employers to provide Filipino workers guaranteed food, housing, clothing and health insurance.
The agreement includes the right for Filipino workers to keep their passports and mobile phones, which previously have been confiscated by employers in Kuwait and other Gulf states. The two governments also agreed that employment contracts would only be renewed upon approval from Philippine officials.