An Instagram influencer and beauty blogger from Kuwait came under fire recently for her comments about the country’s new law that ensures better working facilities to Filipino domestic helps. Sondos Alqattan uploaded a video slamming new laws entitling Filipino domestic workers to a day off once a week. She also criticised the move where employees can keep their own passports, instead of the employer. Her rant video drew flak on Instagram where many dubbed her as “racist” and accused her of supporting “slavery”.
“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,” she said as translated by the Guardian. “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 any more,” she added about the new law implemented in May this year. She later deleted the video from Instagram.
Watch the video here:
The video quickly spread across social media platforms. Many asked beauty brands to stop endorsing her or have any forms of ties with her. Filipino expat groups and workers’ associations have demanded an apology from the star, who has over 2 million followers on Instagram.
She just doesn’t get it. Just apologize for the stupid statements and try to be a better person. But no. She had to defend her position. When will she learn?
Pressure mounts on MAC to denounce Kuwaiti influencer Sondos Al Qattan.https://t.co/MGgWxNOrI6
— Mishal Kanoo (@MishalKanoo) July 26, 2018
Boycott @SHISEIDO_corp @PhytoParis @LieracParis if they continue to sponsor pro-slavery and racist @Sondos_q Any company that do business with her supports her inhumane view on domestic workers. #sondosalqattan
— ᴄɪᴀʀᴀ (@Crlnzo) July 21, 2018
Overseas Filipino workers are seen and treated as mere slaves! We demand a public apology from Sondos Alqattan!
More so, we demand the END OF LABOR EXPORT as government policy! Provide better opportunities for our countrymen here in our own country— pic.twitter.com/k0K1tGE15R
— Marc #OustDuterte (@meowista_) July 20, 2018
Global beauty brands distanced themselves from Alqattan amid the furore. “Shiseido is not currently working with Sondos. We have no plans to work with her again in the future,” famous Japanese company told CNN after the video irked people. While MAC cosmetics Friday that it is not currently in partnership with Alqattan and “will no longer be working with her on any brand activities.”
Thank you for sharing your concerns, we’ve decided to remove the video sponsored by Sondos on our channels. We believe that decent working conditions should be provided to everyone and such behavior does not represent our brand’s core beliefs.
— Chelsea Beautique (@ChelseaBeautiqu) July 21, 2018
However, even after receiving so much hate online, the beauty blogger stuck to her stance and refused to apologise. She told AFP by phone that the outcry was “unjustified” and did not require an apology. “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 1,500 dinars (around Dh17,998),” she said. She later put up a statement on Instagram clarifying her reasons.
As people slammed her for not apologising, she also claimed that her critics targeted her for wearing hijab.
Last update from me on this story: Sondos now suggests controversy about her maid comments is a conspiracy. Claims she’s been criticised coz of her hijab. Intended targets are Kuwait, Islam & Arabs. Ignores fact first of her critics were also Kuwaitis, other Arabs & Muslims! pic.twitter.com/euKDsss84w
— Abdirahim Saeed (@AbdirahimS) July 25, 2018
No. YOU ‘attacked’ Kuwait by criticising its new law.
Also, hijabis have been murdered, physically attacked & abused *just* because of their religion in the West. How dare you play the Islamophobia card & trivialise a very serious issue? #sondosalqattan
— Rachel McArthur (@raychdigitalink) July 26, 2018
On May 11, Kuwait and Manila signed an agreement regulating domestic labour, following a diplomatic crisis that led to a ban on Filipino workers going to work in the Gulf country. The crisis began after a Filipino worker’s mutilated body was found in a freezer. The shocking incident led the Asian country’s president to call back an estimated 2,76,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait to return home, appealing to “their sense of patriotism” and offering free flights for the 10,000 estimated to have overstayed their visas.
The two countries signed an agreement to ease tensions over labour rights for overseas foreign workers (OFW) after Philippine authorities demanded that Kuwaiti recruitment offices pay a $10,000 deposit to compensate workers whose salaries were withheld or contracts suddenly terminated.