Kuwaiti Celebrity Criticizes Labor Rights Law for Domestic Workers, Receives Backlash

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Rabat – Kuwaiti social media celebrity and makeup artist Sondos Al Qattan has been criticized for a statement in which she slammed reforms granting domestic workers a day off and other rights to protect them from labor abuses.

Criticizing the Kuwaiti reforms, Al Qattan shared a video with her followers explaining why domestic workers should not get a day off or be allowed to keep their passports with them.

“But, how can you have a ‘servant’ in your house who gets to keep their passport with them. If they ran away and went back to their country who will refund them? And what is worse is that they have one day off every week,” she said.

Al Qattan added: “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.”

The now-infamous celebrity angered her social media followers and received wide backlash and negative comments for her remarks.

“It is only natural that she would keep her passport and a day off in a week. This is the least she can ask for. Her job is to be a domestic helper not a slave!!” wrote a Twitter user.

“A day off is the minimum. She is a human being not a machine,” wrote another.

Recently, the Kuwaiti cabinet made provisions for the rights of domestic workers under the “kafala,” or sponsorship system, to for domestic workers from the Philippines.

In the sponsorship system, employers pay for domestic workers’ travel and visas, while employees agree to work for a period of time, a type of indentured servitude ripe for abuse.

In February, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte criticized Kuwaiti employers’ alleged harsh treatment of domestic workers from his country, and asked them to fly back home.

The reforms implemented by the Kuwaiti cabinet came after the Philippines and the Gulf state signed an agreement to regulate domestic workers.

According to the law, employers should provide workers with food, clothing, health insurance, and housing, and should not confiscate the worker’s passport.

The Gulf area is notorious for cases of violence against domestic workers; several videos depicting such violence have been posted on social media.

In April, Kuwaiti authorities sentenced a married couple to death for the murder of a Filipina worker.