Social storm over domestic workers
2018-08-01 13:28:13 -
Photo source: Flickr

By Mariaam Bhatti

‘Social media can break you faster than it makes you,” read a headline I read in the news recently, and I can only agree 100 per cent. There are many times I feel that some people have unjustly lost their jobs due to their online footprints, or simply not thinking things through before posting, or not even imagining the impact. 

Over the last decade, social media has given us an opportunity to step into other people’s lives even if we have never met them in person. It has given us fast, unfiltered news regarding what other parts of the world are up to. It has also given us a window through which we pry into other people’s lives remotely. For every meaningful and humanitarian story, like the rescue of those boys and their soccer coach from a Thai cave, we also know about petty, egoistic news such as Conor McGregor’s father ranting about getting his change in coins from a Dart ticket machine.

This endless access to the internet-covered world also gives even more reason to be careful with what we leave out there, as just like everyone else, employers or clients — existing and potential — are human, too, and they do look at what we write or what we say online.

Take the story of one so-called ‘influencer’ who has been dropped by her beloved makeup brands for posting a video on her Instagram account expressing “seemingly sincere incredulity that new Kuwaiti regulations will give Filipina domestic workers one day off a week and forbid employers from keeping their passports”, as the news report read.

When criticised, instead of going back to apologise, this young woman — who seems ill-informed about domestic workers — went on to defend her words, claiming that the withholding of passports is only to protect the interest of the employer and “what if they [domestic workers] ran away?” It seems she didn’t expect so many people, including famous ones within and without her network, would speak against her comments and in support of domestic workers.

One of my favourite responses was a video by a young Emirati man with 1.2 million social media followers, in which he said: “If I worked for you, I would run so far away, the CIA wouldn’t be able to find me, I would dig a hole so deep, you wouldn’t be able to smell my scent. I would disappear. I would cease to exist. I would never show my face in this world again out of fear you might find me and might ask me to work for you again.”

What I took away most from his video was his message: “Be happy, grow old with people we love, take care of our families and be at peace.

“Anyone that gets in the way of that is a serious problem,” he said. “On behalf of my country and on behalf of my family, I want to thank every single domestic worker in this part of the world for helping us and for being part of our families.”

Who would argue against that?

Mariaam Bhatti is a member of the Domestic Workers Action Group and Force Labour Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.
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