By Roy Mabasa
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center on Sunday urged the Philippine government to bar Kuwaiti blogger and celebrity make up artist Sondos al-Qattan following the latter’s alleged “pro-slavery remarks” posted on her social media account.
Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the blogger with 2.3 million Instagram followers and over 100,000 Twitter fans “personifies the ugly face of modern-day slavery” and should be included in the government’s blacklist of abusive and undesirable foreign employers.
“By her words, publicly uttered and shared through social media, her undesirability as a foreign employer, cannot be denied. She is not worthy to be even in the same room as our valiant and hardworking OFWs,” Ople said in the statement.
In a now-deleted Instagram video clip, al-Qattan said: “The new laws that have been passed are like a pathetic film.”
“For her (the maid) to take a day off every week, that’s four days a month. Those are the days that she’ll be out. And we don’t know what she’ll be doing on those days, with her passport on her. How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them?” (Translation based on a cnn.com news report)
In a report published by another online-based news platform buzzfeednews.com, the Kuwaiti blogger was also quoted to have said: “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.”
Last May 11, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a bilateral labor agreement to improve the working and living conditions of OFWs in that Gulf state.
The agreement was a sort of modus vivendi to break the diplomatic spat triggered by the distribution of a video showing Department of Foreign Affairs officials and Philippine Embassy personnel in Kuwait rescuing alleged maltreated OFWs from the household of their employers.
It was clearly stated in that bilateral agreement that the passport should be in the possession of the domestic worker and such worker is entitled to a weekly day off. Kuwaiti employers who refuse to follow these provisions shall be immediately blacklisted.
Ople also rallied all labor-sending countries especially those that deploy domestic workers to Kuwait to also impose a ban against Sondos al-Qattan as a potential employer of a household worker.
“She is a disgrace not just to her country but also to her gender and the rest of humanity,” Ople said.
The Ople Center represents the OFW sector in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), a multi-sectoral body mandated by law to coordinate and monitor anti-trafficking cases.