Kuwaiti social media star ignited a backlash after criticising a law allowing domestic workers one day off a week, prompting cosmetic brands to sever ties with her.
Sondos Alqattan, a make-up artist, had uploaded a video on social media earlier this month bemoaning new regulations that allow domestic workers a day off every week and the right to keep their passports, which employees often confiscate.
“How can you have a servant at home who has her passport with her?,” Ms Alqattan asked indignantly in a video posted on Instagram to her 2.3 million followers.
“She will have a day off a week, and work six days a week. And of course you won’t know happens on these days, while her passport is with her.”
Social media users decried Ms Alqattan’s comments as racist, and demanded cosmetic brands cut their ties with her. Chelsea Beautique, a make-up company, announced it would remove a video sponsored by Ms Alqattan from its social media channels.
Several companies have cut ties with the social media star
Several companies have cut ties with the social media star Credit: @sondos_aq/Instagram
“We believe that decent working conditions should be provided to everyone and such behavior does not represent our brand’s core beliefs,” the company posted on Twitter.
A spokesman for French perfume brand M Micallef said his company was “shocked” by Ms Alqattan’s comments and would end their relationship, Gulf News reported.
Ms Alqattan defended her remarks in another video. “What do human rights have to do with (the worker) keeping her passport? Even our kids don’t hold on to their passport,” she said.
Kuwait employs almost 700,000 domestic workers, out of a population of four million. Many of them come from the Philippines, which temporarily banned its citizens from domestic work in Kuwait after a maid was murdered and concealed in a freezer.
The ban was lifted this year after Kuwait agreed to grant the workers some protections, after years of complaints by human rights groups against abuses faced by domestic workers in the Gulf emirate.
In 2017, Kuwaiti authorities charged a woman after she filmed her domestic worker clinging to a window and pleading for help before falling several stories on to a small metal awning.
The woman could be heard taunting the worker, calling her a “lunatic.”