A Manila-based migrant’s advocacy group is urging president Rodrigo Duterte to declare Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Al Qattan a persona non grata following her criticism of Kuwaiti legislation designed to protect the rights of Filipina domestic workers.
In a statement posted online on Thursday, Migrante International said that it also wants the Kuwaiti celebrity to be “totally prohibited” from hiring Filipino workers, noting that she remains unapologetic even in the face of “a barrage of online criticism”.
“Sondos is symptomatic of the long-standing impunity caused by the negligence of the [Filipino] government, which is why Filipinos are continually being subjected to abuse and maltreatment,” said Armando Hernando, chairperson of Migrante Philippines. “The Duterte administration should all the more fulfil its promises of achieving justice for Demafelis [Joanna Demafelis, a Filipina domestic worker murdered in Kuwait] and other abused and maltreated OFWS.”
The online statement also urged Filipinos working overseas to “storm” Qattan’s social media profiles “to discredit and eliminate her influence” using the hashtags #SondosApologize and #SondosPersonaNonGrata.
Similarly, in a statement quoted by Filipino news outlets, Susan Ople, the head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center NGO said that Qattan “publicly uttered and shared through social media her undesirability as a foreign employer.”
“[Qattan] should be included in the POEA’s blacklist of abusive and undesirable foreign employers,” Ople said. “She is not worthy to be even in the same room as our valiant and hardworking OFWs [overseas foreign workers].”
Speaking to the Philippines’ DWIZ radio station several days ago, POAE administrator Bernard Olalia reportedly agreed to blacklist Qattan, saying that Kuwaiti workers who do not follow the Gulf state’s regulations governing Filipina domestic workers “should be blacklisted immediately.”
“They will become the root of the problem if they are allowed to recruit our domestic workers,” Olalia added. “We will not allow those kinds of Kuwaiti employers to not follow the agreement.”
Olalia’s statement comes amidst growing public backlash against Qattan’s comments, in which she criticised Kuwaiti rules that give Filipina domestic workers one day off a week and forbids employers from retaining their passports.
In the Philippines, Qattan has been repeatedly lambasted in the media and by members of the public, who have largely expressed revulsion at her comments.
“There are so many things wrong with her statement. Sure, she did not beat her employees but not letting them out of the house and keeping their passport makes them seem like objects,” read an opinion piece in the Philippines’ Inquirer newspaper. “You’re keeping them cooped up. They’re people just like you and they deserve these simple things.”
“Now that these are laws, we do hope you abide by them, even if you don’t agree,” the editorial added.
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