Seminar on legal status of women in Kuwait
Kuwait: What laws in Kuwait discriminate against women and what challenges or career obstacles do Kuwaiti women face? These questions were raised in a seminar organized on Monday at the American University of Kuwait (AUK). Suha Al-Oudah, a lawyer and member of the Defending Committee of Women’s Issues in Kuwait (DCWIK) discussed the legal status of women in Kuwait. “There’s a lot of laws in Kuwait that discriminate against women, such as Article 153 of Penal Law which states that whoever finds his wife, daughter, mother or sister with a man in an adulterous relationship, and if he kills her right away, or kills her partner is sentenced for no more than three years jail term or is fined with KD 225 or either of these two punishments,” said Oudah who has participated in events to combat violence against women, sexual harassment, and working women’s rights.
“The law further states that if the woman kills him in the same situation, then it is considered a murder,” she said. “Article 182 of Penal Law allows the kidnapper to marry the girl he kidnapped with the permission from her guardian who cannot demand the persecution of the kidnapper. Even if such a claim arises, the kidnapper shall not be charged. This is not only in penal law but also in National Law. Article 2 allows any person born in or outside Kuwait whose father is a Kuwaiti national shall be a Kuwaiti national himself. But not if the mother is Kuwaiti,” Oudah said.
Housing Law The Housing Law has the biggest discrimination against women, she said. The law lists requirements for a widow loan applicant to share the loan with a Kuwaiti male guardian (son or father). The applicant has to be above the age of thirty on the date of application, and can only apply after three years from the date of divorce. This law is not applicable to men. The worst part of the law is that Kuwaiti women who are married to non Kuwaiti men cannot apply for housing allowance. Domestic workers are still excluded from the protection of Labor law, she said. Oudah gave a list of recommendations, and hoped that government to consider them seriously.
She recommended replacing religious personal status law with a secular personal status law; amending article two, allowing female citizens to pass their citizenship to their spouse and children; call off the requirements for women in housing law; amend Labor Law protection to domestic workers (fair employment contracts); amend article in penal law excluding the culprits in honor crimes and in abducting women. “The government must allow Kuwaiti women married to non Kuwaiti men to apply for allowance for housing, and criminalize sexual harassment, domestic abuse, marital rape, and establish a family court,” Oudah said, adding “They must allow hotlines or help lines to help victims of abuse; build shelters for victims of abuse; appoint female judges and promote female officers to higher ranks in the police force and fire brigade.
By Faten Omar (Kuwait Times) [link]