Asia

Kuwaiti influencer defends controversial remarks on Filipino workers

Sondos Alqattan Image copyright Instagram/Sondos Alqattan
Image caption Ms Alqattan is known for her beauty tutorials on Instagram

A Kuwaiti social-media influencer who was criticised over comments she made about Filipino domestic workers has defended her remarks.

Sondos Alqattan had posted an Instagram video condemning new laws that give Filipino workers a day off per week and the right to keep their passports.

However, she has said that the outcry she received was "unjustified", though she has since deleted the video.

Known for her make-up tutorials, Ms Alqattan has 2.3m Instagram followers.

"I have not [in] any circumstances in present or past... degraded or in any way mistreated an employee of mine," she said in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

"I consider all employees as equal human being [sic]."

Several beauty companies who previously had ties with Ms Alqattan have moved to distance themselves.

"We are totally against the principles expressed by Ms Sondos Alqattan which in no way reflect the Micallef brand," a spokesperson from perfume house M. Micallef told the BBC.

Make-up company Chelsea Beautique also posted on Twitter that Ms Alqattan's behaviour did not "represent [their] brand's core beliefs".

'Out of touch with humanity'

In her controversial video posted earlier in July, Ms Alqattan said: "How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them? And what's worse is they have one day off every week. I don't want a Filipina maid anymore."

The response to her remarks has been fierce.

Migrante International, an advocacy group for Filipinos working overseas said it "vehemently condemned" Ms Alqattan's statements.

"We strongly demand that she offer public apology [sic] and express remorse for her disgusting statements," it said in an online statement.

"It would be more valuable if she can visit the Philippines to witness the appalling poverty... and find out what hardships [they] had to go through before they can be deployed abroad."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are thousands of Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait

More than 250,000 Filipinos are working in Kuwait, according to the Philippines foreign ministry. Most are employed as maids or domestic helpers.

The Philippines had earlier this year temporarily banned its citizens from travelling to work in Kuwait, following an incident in which a domestic worker was killed and her body found in a freezer.

The ban was lifted in May after Kuwait and the Philippines signed an agreement on workers' rights.

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