Nearly one domestic violence case reported in Kuwait every day
According to statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice in 2010, the average annual number of reported cases of violence against women was 368 per year for the past 10 years in Kuwait. The actual number is much larger as many women don’t report their cases due to social reasons. As part of efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence against women in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Women Doctors Group (6abebat) held a workshop on dealing with domestic violence in the healthcare setting at the Faculty of Medicine of Kuwait University. A member of 6abebat mentioned that the number of women subject to domestic violence is really high in a small country like Kuwait, with one case registered every day and many unreported.
Attorney Mohannad Al-Sayer spoke about the legal aspects of domestic violence, the laws that are available and what’s missing. He admitted a shortage exists in the current laws. “We need to amend our laws, as the criminal law issued in 1960 does not include all issues related to domestic violence. We have prepared a new law proposal with solutions to address issues missing in the present law such as establishing a shelter for victims of domestic violence and a quick solution when filing a case so the victim will immediately be isolated from the violator,” he noted during the workshop.
He called for support from the community and NGOs to pass this law in the parliament. “This law is very important and will save many women and children from domestic violence. Many victims if not the majority don’t file a case against the aggressor and even if hospitalized, they deny being attacked and claim they fell down and so on, as they know they have no other place to go to and are scared of what the violators may do if they filed cases against them,” stressed Sayer.
According to him, the law is not clear and direct in some cases. “The criminal intent is what matters, so for instance if the violator (father, husband, or other) hits his wife or child by hand lightly, this is not considered a crime as it’s his right to do so according to Islamic sharia. But if he burns the child or attacks his wife with a knife, it would be clear that the criminal intent was to cause harm. But if he hits his wife while they are fighting, he may claim that he only tried to threaten her and didn’t intend to cause serious harm. The verdict in these cases usually is ‘exchanging blows” and each of the parties pays a KD 50 fine, as each of them claims self-defence,” Sayer pointed out.
The criminal law has an increased penalty for the committer of physical or sexual crimes in certain cases. “For instance if the violator is the parent or guardian, or if the victim is a child or is disabled, the law includes various acts as violence that are not physical – verbally insulting or expelling from the house is also considered violence. The oppressed women can in most cases only get their right through filing a divorce case at the court. But if it is an oppressed daughter or child, here they don’t really have a reasonable solution. I advise the victims to always report the case and say the truth if they are hospitalized, as this may make the violator to refrain from further attacks on the victim. Being silent doesn’t mean you’re safe or the violence won’t be repeated,” concluded Sayer.
Dr Abeer Al-Mutawa, a member of 6abebat, noted that the group is organizing these events to break the silence of abused women. “We started our activities with a walkathon that we held last month, and today we are holding this workshop to raise awareness of this serious problem and provide the victims of domestic abuse with information that may help them. We will continue our work until we have a law to protect women against domestic violence,” she told Kuwait Times.
Dr Fatima Ayad, clinical psychologist at Kuwait University, presented a case study on implementing crisis intervention in the healthcare setting. During her work at the social development office, she meets many abused women and the case study was one of them. “It was a 38-year-old woman who came to seek help after fleeing from her 45-year-old husband, who attacked her several times. They have 5 children, of which two are handicapped. The husband followed her to the center and attacked her again, and only the guards could stop him. He then claimed he loved his wife, although she doesn’t obey him and deserves being abused, he added,” she stated.
By Nawara Fattahova
Source: Kuwait Times