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Articles of some laws have ‘gaps’ that deprive women of their rights

There is serious discrimination against women: expert

Ahmed Al-Fadhl

KUWAIT CITY, July 1: Although Kuwaiti women enjoy many political rights, such as the right to vote and run for parliamentary seats and hold various ministerial, diplomatic and academic positions and other prestigious positions in the country, there are gaps in the articles of some laws that deprive women of the rights and benefits enjoyed by their male counterparts, reports Al-Anba daily.

This is especially pronounced in the issuance of private traveling passports for them and their family members, while granting this right to men while the women are deprived the same right.

This prompted member of the National Assembly MP Ahmed Al-Fadhl to propose a gender equality in that regard, especially that there are many women politicians who are not satisfied with denial of the same right like men. In order to shed light on this issue, Al-Anba interviewed a group of jurists and women leaders to learn about different views and opinions, especially with the presence of many women in important positions such as members of the National, Municipal Councils and cultural attachés who are entitled to hold private passports.

They also discussed absence of women working as ambassadors of Kuwait abroad. The excerpt is as follows:

In the beginning, Lawyer Hisham Al-Saleh said the Kuwaiti Constitution states in Article 29 of Part 3 that “people are equal in human dignity and are equal before the law in public rights and duties, not discriminated against by reason of race, origin, language or religion” The Constitution therefore prohibited discrimination between women and men. Al-Saleh said that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1979 is the basic document that includes the rights of women as well as the practical measures that States must take to eliminate discrimination in various aspects of life.

This convention became effective in December 1981 and ratified by Kuwait. He pointed out that ratification of any agreement means it would be considered part of the legal system of the state. He explained there are some laws that are still contrary to the Constitution such as the privileges of membership in terms of granting passports to male members of the National Assembly while excluding their female counterparts. He pointed out that there is a real imbalance in the leadership positions of women in Kuwait, in violation of the Constitution and international conventions that prohibit discrimination between the sexes.

For his part, professor of public law at the Faculty of Law- Kuwait University Dr Ibrahim Al-Hamoud said Kuwaiti laws show no discrimination between women and men, but in fact there is a serious discrimination against women. For example, at Kuwait University we see that women are not present in senior positions such as deputies of the university President.

Kuwaiti women, despite being armed with education and knowledge, as well as the ability and competence, they are deprived of much of what they deserve. Al-Hamoud said: “At the level of the state, especially in the leadership and supervisory positions, we find a small number of women occupy those positions, so the government and the parliament have to legislate a law for the quota of women in order to achieve equality. He pointed out that this law does not violate the principle of equality, indicating that depriving women of the positions they deserve violates the principle of equality. He added there is a clear discrimination against women in allowances and many of the benefits that men enjoy.

He pointed out that the Kuwaiti woman should not be deprived of many civil rights. She can not guarantee her children financially, pointing to the need to establish rules to ensure this. He called on the legislator to establish detailed rules on the status of women as a certain percentage in leadership and supervisory positions which qualifies them to serve as ambassadors and positions in international organizations.

For her part, Attorney Mona Al- Arbash said: In a clear defiance of Article 7 of the Constitution, which stipulates equality between the sexes as a pillar of society, Article 8 of Law No. 11 of 1962 on passports still distinguishes between men and women of equal legal status on granting passports. This article was drafted in 1962 before women had their political rights in 2005. It stipulated that male members of the National Assembly, their wives and children were given special passports whether traveling in their company or on their own.

Al-Arbash said Article 8 granted the right of special passports to former ministers, employees from the rank of undersecretary of a ministry and above and the like, ambassadors, former authorized ministers and Kuwaiti representatives in the Arab League considered as members of diplomatic missions during their official travel.

This is in addition to administrative staff attached to diplomatic, consular missions and Kuwait missions to international organizations. It also includes spouses of all these and their minor children on the condition that they travel in their company, while the spouses of the women and their minor children were deprived of the privilege of a special passport, in a clear distinction between women and men despite employment in the same position.

This is happening even though the Constitution attaches higher importance to the equality. She cited Article 175 of the Constitution that prohibits the proposal to revise it unless the amendment provides for greater freedom and equality, which underlines the importance attached by the Kuwaiti Constitution to the principle of equality. In her turn, Dr Ghadir Asiri, who holds a doctorate in social political law, said: “There is inequality in the rights between women and men in the political profession.

This contradicts with the constitution. The government must equal all rights without resorting to political opposition. This is because the right is guaranteed by the Constitution, so it is incumbent on occupants of the same position to enjoy equal benefits as long as they do the same work.” Asiri said that it is unfair that women in 2018 are still demanding for their rights because the laws or decisions that are contrary to the Constitution do not do justice to women. She said this harms the image of Kuwait internationally, because it is a signatory to international treaties providing for equality between women and men

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