Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Al Qattan also said she was upset maids were allowed four days off a month. Picture: Instagram
Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Al Qattan also said she was upset maids were allowed four days off a month. Picture: Instagram

Social media star faces huge backlash after racist comments

A SOCIAL media star is facing a boycott after posting a "racist" video complaining about new rights for domestic servants.

Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Alqattan, who has around 2.3 million followers on Instagram, posted the now-deleted clip on the site last week.

In the video, she gripes about changes to laws which mean the country's Filipino migrant workers are now entitled to days off and are allowed to hold on to their own passports instead of surrendering them to their bosses.

"The new laws that have been passed are pathetic. Honestly, I disagree," Ms Alqattan said in the footage.

" … To take a day off every week, that's four days a month," she said.

"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.

"How can you have a servant at home who gets to keep their passport with them? If they ran away and went back to their country, who'll refund me? I don't want a Filipino maid anymore."

The video sparked an almost instant backlash from social media users, with many accusing her of racism and of "trying to enslave human beings".

"You are ugly inside. No-soul-having-slave-driver. Your Filipino 'servants' are humans with basic human rights," one Instagram user wrote, while another added: "You may have a pretty face but the attitude is very opposite!!!"

Most comments are too offensive to publish.

In another Instagram post, Ms Alqattan addressed the controversy - but stood by her divisive opinions.

"The passport of any expat employee should be in the possession of the employer to protect the employer's interest," she wrote.

"As far as the four-day-a-month off days, the condition differs from a household worker compared to a business worker. In comparison, many household employers don't allow the worker any off-days even if the contract specifies a certain number of off-days.

"I have not, in any circumstances in the present or the past, have mistreated, degraded or in any way mistreated an employee of mine."

But the damage may already have been done.

After the video went viral both in the Middle East and the Philippines, two large beauty brands - M Micallef and Chelsea Beautique - have pulled their sponsorship from the blogger.

There is now mounting pressure on other brands such as Max Factor and MAC Cosmetics to follow suit and cancel any contracts they may have with Ms Alqattan.

Kuwait has a population of around four million people, and about 660,000 of them are domestic workers from overseas.

Around 276,000 of them are estimated to be from the Philippines.

According to Human Rights Watch, the country's "kafala" sponsorship system, which gives bosses almost total control over their migrant employees, often results in migrant workers being forced to stay with abusive employers.

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au


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