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Kuwaiti star says domestic workers shouldn't get days off, sparks outrage

StepFeed logo StepFeed 18/07/2018 StepFeed

Kuwaiti star says domestic workers shouldn't get days off, sparks outrage

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In recent months, the government of Kuwait has made several reforms to laws affecting Filipino domestic workers who live and work in the Gulf state. 

Under them, Kuwait-based nationals of the Philippines will now be governed by work contracts that protect their right to a day off and to keep their passport with them.

The reforms come weeks after the Philippines' president, Rodrigo Duterte, criticized the way nationals of his country were being treated in Kuwait and even asked them to travel back home. 

Even though the changes, which should guarantee basic rights to hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers in Kuwait, are a step in the right direction, they haven't gone down too well with some Kuwaitis. 

Those include social media celebrity and makeup artist, Sondos Al Qattan, who shockingly hit back at the new rules in a video that has since gone viral.  

Al Qattan's racist comments circulated on Kuwaiti Twitter

In a video that tweeps uploaded to Twitter earlier this week, Al Qattan makes several comments criticizing the new work contracts. 

"For people who want to go get a Filipino domestic worker, what are these ridiculous work contracts you've got to sign? The woman I met with was reading out the rules to me and I was just shocked. Put aside that they need to be given a break every five hours, that's normal. But, how can you have a 'servant' in your house who gets to keep their passport with them? Where are we living? If they ran away and went back to their country, who'll refund me?," she said. 

Al Qattan didn't stop at that but also went on to object to a rule that grants a worker a day off per week. 

"Even worse, is that they get a day off every single week! What's left? 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," she added. 

And angered hundreds who were having none of it

"She doesn't want a human being to get a day off!! She wants to enslave them!!"

"Her job is to be a domestic helper not a slave!!"

"It's normal that she gets to keep her passport!! And you're surprised she gets a day off, that's the least she should get."

"You're delusional if you think you 'own' your domestic worker"

"Why don't you work seven days a week and give your passport to your boss. Where's your humanity?"

"You're talking about the most basic of human rights here."

Many pointed this out

"A day off is the minimum. She's a human being, not a machine."

Others summed it all up

"First of all, you call her a domestic worker, not a servant. Second, she's not a machine, she can't work for you 24/7 from the moment she arrives in your home till the moment she leaves. Even machines get tired. You take care of your own house for a day per week and let her have a day off like everyone else. Treat her well and let her keep her passport because she isn't your slave, but an employee who has responsibilities and rights!"

Domestic worker rights are practically non-existent across the Arab world

Millions of domestic workers across the Arab world are forced to fight for their most basic of rights given that they're governed by the kafala system

The system exists in different forms in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. 

According to Human Rights Watch, it's a form of legislation "that gives sponsoring employers substantial control over workers and leaves workers vulnerable to situations of trafficking and forced labor." 

The kafala system, which has been called "modern-day slavery" by rights groups, legally binds domestic workers to their employers, giving them very limited legal protection. Under it, domestic workers across the region are left exposed to human rights violations. 

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