Kuwaiti social media star unapologetic over Filipino worker comments

#Migration

Sondos al-Qattan faced backlash for criticising plans to give Filipino workers one day off a week and preventing employers from seizing their passports

Qattan has been dropped by three international cosmetics brands since making her controversial comments (IG: Sondos_aq)
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Last update: 
Tuesday 24 July 2018 11:21 UTC
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A Kuwaiti social media star, who has more than 2.3 million followers on Instagram, has caused a backlash after criticising a law that would give more rights to domestic workers in the Gulf kingdom. 

Make-up artist Sondos al-Qattan condemned the Kuwaiti government's plans to give Filipino workers one day off a week and prevent employers from seizing their passports. 

Qattan, who became famous for her YouTube beauty tutorials, said she was not sorry and described the outcry against her comments as "unjustified".

"The passport of any expat employee should be in the possession of the employer to protect the employer's interest," Qattan wrote on her Instagram page

"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."

She added: "The servant lives in the house just like the owners, he eats the same food, 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." 

Since making her controversial comments, Qattan has deleted the clip and been dropped by three international brand sponsors, including Max Factor, London-based Chelsea Beautique, and French perfume brand M. Micallef. 

"Max Factor Arabia was shocked by the comments made... regarding the new labour law in Kuwait," a spokesperson told Gulf News

"We are taking this incident very seriously and have immediately suspended all collaborations with Sondos."

Qattan's comments come at a sensitive time for the Gulf kingdom, which has just restored relations with the Philippines after the government broke ties over its treatment of domestic workers. 

The Philippines issued a ban on workers going to the Gulf in January after a maid was murdered and found stuffed in a freezer. 

The crisis was compounded further after Kuwaiti authorities expelled the Philippine ambassador after the country's ministry of foreign affairs released a video showing embassy staff rescuing workers from employers accused of abuse.