The Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Alqattan recently unleashed a storm of criticism after saying that Filipino domestic workers in the Persian Gulf region should not have the right to take a day off or hold on to their own passports. Activists the world over were quick to condemn her remarks, and prominent cosmetic companies have stopped working with her.
But her views are far from extraordinary. From Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, many employers view domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women, as servants who do not deserve the freedom to leave the houseor even the right to rest.
A recent report from the International Labor Organization says that “while many employer-domestic worker relationships are positive” in the Middle East, “continuing and credible allegations of abuse and fraudulent behavior continue to plague the sector.” Human Rights Watch has documented hundreds of incidents of mistreatment.
Laura is an independent journalist obsessed with borders and everything that crosses them. Born in Barcelona, she writes about development, migration and trafficking of all kinds. This article was published with support from the Fairway Fellowship, an initiative of the Ethical Journalism Network and International Labour Organization to support quality reporting on labour migration in the Middle East.
Read Laura’s three other reports produced as part of the fellowship here: