Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger over remarks on Filipino domestic workers

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Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al-Qattan over remarks on Filipino maids. (Screengrab from YouTube)
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Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al-Qattan over remarks on Filipino maids. (Photo courtesy of Instagram @sondos_aq)
Updated 24 July 2018

Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger over remarks on Filipino domestic workers

CAIRO: Two international domestic brands have reportedly cut off their ties with a Kuwaiti Instagram star who said she was upset Filipino domestic workers in her country were getting a couple days off a month.
Sondo Al-Qattan faces criticism for a video posted on July 10 to Instagram in which she attacked measures introduced in May that grant Filipinos working in the oil-rich Gulf state one day off per week and prevent employers from keeping their passports.
Al-Qattan, known for her Internet make-up tutorials, told AFP by phone that the outcry was “unjustified” and did not require an apology.
Apparently, French perfume brand M. Micallef and London-based Chelsea Beautique that feature the beauty blogger have decided to sever ties with her after her comments sparked outrage on social media.
A spokesperson for M. Micallef told Gulf News in an email the company “deeply regret the relationship with her” and that it is is being terminated “with immediate effect.”
Cosmetics brand Chelsea Beautique also said in a statement that they had decided to remove a video featuring Al-Qattan from their channels.
Al-Qattan, who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, faced huge backlash for criticizing Kuwait’s new labor law.
“All I said was that the employer was entitled to keep the servant’s passport, and that many Kuwaitis and Gulf nationals agree with me,” said Al-Qattan.
“I have the right as a kafil (sponsor) to keep my employee’s passport, and I am responsible for paying a deposit of up to 1,500 dinars (around $4,900),” she said.
Al-Qattan insisted the practices are not an “insult to the employee, and do not concern humanity or human rights because I did not deprive the employee of her salary or beat her.”
“The servant lives in the house just like the owners, he eats the same food, sleeps, rests and goes out shopping... this is a natural right. He’s not like a waiter who works fixed hours, so we give him a weekly leave,” she added.
Qattan’s comments in the now deleted clip sparked outrage on social media, with many Twitter and Instagram users calling on brands that work with the makeup artist to sever ties.
Migrante International, an advocacy outfit for Filipinos working overseas, called on Qattan to apologize and likened her comments to those of “a slave owner.”
On May 11, Kuwait and Manila signed an agreement regulating domestic labor, following a diplomatic crisis that led to a ban on Filipino workers going to work in the Gulf country.
In February, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers traveling to Kuwait after a Filipino maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.
The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila’s ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.


Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

Updated 19 October 2019

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

  • Jane Fonda plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels
  • Getting arrested in 2019, poses some entirely new challenges: Fonda

WASHINGTON: Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she’s returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.
Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters was arrested Friday at the US Capitol on charges of unlawful demonstration by what she called “extremely nice and professional” police. Fellow actor Sam Waterston was also in the group, which included many older demonstrators.
Now 81, Fonda said she plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels. She hopes to encourage other older people to protest as well.
Getting arrested in 2019, poses some entirely new challenges, Fonda told The Associated Press in an interview.
These days, “they use white plastic things on your wrists instead of metal handcuffs, and that hurts more,” she said.
“The only problem for me is I’m old,” Fonda said. After her first arrest last week, she had trouble getting into the police vehicle because she was handcuffed behind her back and “had nothing to hang on to.”
On Friday, Fonda emerged from a cluster of officers and stepped smartly into the police wagon, her hands cuffed in front of her.
“Thanks, Jane!” some of the protesters called out.
“What would you tell President Trump?” someone in the crowd yelled to her earlier, as she and other protesters stood on their platform in front of the Capitol.
“I wouldn’t waste my breath,” she shouted back, drawing laughter.
The rally drew at least a couple of hundred people, young and old.
While Fonda has taken part in many climate demonstrations, she said Greta Thunberg’s mobilization of international student strikes and other activism, along with the climate writing of author Naomi Klein, prompted her to return to courting arrests for a cause.
Fonda cannot remember precisely which cause led to her last arrest in the 1970s.
She said her target audience now is people like her who try to cut their plastic use and drive fuel-efficient cars, for instance, but otherwise “don’t know what to do and they feel helpless,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage people to become more active, across the age spectrum.”
Especially in the US, young people appear to be driving many of the protests and rallies demanding government action on climate change, University of Maryland sociologist Dana Fisher said.
Nearly half of the people who turned out for a September climate protest in Washington were college age or younger, and a quarter were 17 or younger, for instance, Fisher said. Most were female.
On the other hand, it was older, white females who turned out for earlier protests during the Trump administration, like the women’s marches, Fisher noted.
“There’s a whole group of very activated, middle-age white women. They woke up after the election, and they haven’t gone back to bed,” Fisher said.
So far, those people have not been involved in the youth climate movement. Fonda’s efforts could “get them out there,” Fisher said.
If her efforts misfire, Fisher added, the older people risk making the movement look uncool.
Asked how she would answer any young climate activist who complained of being co-opted, Fonda said, “I would hug them.”
And she did just that with some of the teenagers and other young activists she invited up to the stage to speak.
“It’s a good thing that Jane is doing, to try to shift the paradigm so it’s not just falling on young people” to rally the public on fossil fuel emissions, said Joe Markus, a 19-year-old Washington-area student attending Friday’s protest.
Leslie Wharton, 63, from Bethesda, Maryland, sat out the Vietnam War protests that drew out Fonda. She came out Friday as part of a group calling itself Elders Climate Action.
Lots of people of all ages are worried about climate change and want to do something, Wharton said, but “us elders are retired or part-time. We can take the time.”