Photo posted on Instagram. Identiyfing details blurred by FRANCE 24.
Someone has found a strange new use for the photo-sharing site Instagram: a user is asking fellow Kuwaitis to send in photos of their domestic workers who have run away, and has posted
dozens of these images, often along with detailed information about the workers’ identity.
In one of the first posts, the account owner explained: “This account was established because these runaway maids leave our houses and go work elsewhere. So we want to warn others not to hire them.”.Another post urges employers to go to the police and “submit an urgent case to the court” followed by a complaint to the migration directorate, “this way the maid cannot leave the country through her embassy or a detention centre, and the sponsor [meaning the employer] will not have to cover travel expenses [back to the employee’s home country].” As of Friday, the account had attracted nearly 2,700 followers. Most of the comments on the photos are supportive of the account, and some are blatantly xenophobic, criticising the foreign workers’ appearances.
One of the photos posted on the Instagram account. Identifying details blurred by FRANCE 24.
According to the nonprofit organisation Migrant Rights, which wrote
about this on their website, these comments are “reflective of popular narratives demonising domestic workers as opportunistic interlopers” and “epitomise the ever-present reverse victimization narratives
that frequent Gulf op-eds”.
Kuwait has a huge migrant worker population, the majority of whom are domestic workers. According to Human Rights Watch, these make up nearly a third of the small Gulf country’s workforce. The country has a controversial sponsorship system
called "kafeel", which ties migrants’ legal residence in the country to their individual employers. They need their employer’s consent to leave their job and transfer to a new one. Leaving without permission – even when they face abuse
– can lead to prison or deportation