Migrante demands apology from Kuwait celeb who ranted vs maids' day off

MANILA, Philippines – Migrant group Migrante international has demanded a public apology from a Kuwaiti social media influencer who said that maids in her country should not be given days off or rest days.

"We strongly demand that she offer public apology and genuinely express remorse for her disgusting statements," said Migrante in a joint statement with Sandigan or Samahan ng mga DH sa Gitnang Silangan (Association of Domestic Helpers in the Middle East.)

"It would also be more valuable to her if she can visit the Philippines to witness for herself the appalling poverty that grips many Filipino families and find out what hardships OFWs had to go through in government agencies before they can finally be deployed abroad," it added.

A Twitter video of make-up artist and social media celebrity Sondos Al Qattan sparked outrage after she crititcized the Kuwaiti government's policy of giving Filipino maids rest days, and also barring employers from holding their passports.

“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 me?” Al Qattan said in the video in Arabic, according to a report on Asia Times.

Asia Times also quoted Al Qattan as saying she would not hire a Filipino helper because of the day-off rule.

"By projecting herself as a slave-owner, Sondos exhibits intoxication in her overinflated ego and false sense of superiority. At a time when many all over the world are going to and fro online to acquire knowledge and access more information, Sondos should have known by now that workers have rights too and they deserve just and humane treatment from their employers," said Migrante.

"Instead, Sondos continues to cling to a backward outlook which literally belongs to the dark ages," the statement added.

The Philippine and Kuwaiti government have been working on an agreement to protect the interest and welfare of Filipinos working in Kuwait. The death of Joanna Demafelis and a diplomatic row over rescue operation videos of allegedly mistreated Filipinos hinder talks.  (READ: 'A national shame': The death and homecoming of Joanna Demafelis)

But in March, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that a draft memorandum of understanding between the two governments will allow Filipino workers to keep their passports and use their cellphones.  (READ: Duterte lashes out at Kuwait over mistreatment of Filipino workers)

The agreement also states that a Filipino worker should have at least 8 hours of rest per day, and that his or her work shall be limited to only one household. It also set a minimum montly salary at KD120 or around P20,700.

Migrante International has crititcized the agreement as being weak, and with nothing new to offer to protect Filipinos. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.