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Case against gender segregation rejected – ‘Part of domestic workers law unconstitutional’

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 16: The Constitutional Court, presided over by Judge Yusuf Al-Mutawa, on Wednesday rejected Petition No. 13/2015 concerning the constitutionality of Co-Education Law No. 24/1996 which regulates higher studies at Kuwait University, Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), and the private schools.

Earlier, the court decided to accept the petition filed by Attorney Hussein Al-Asfour and some Kuwait University students, who challenged the constitutionality of the Segregation Law applied in universities and other academic institutions.

The petitioners argued that the law contravenes several articles of the Constitution which guarantees equality, while the implementation of the law caused a lot of disruption in higher learning circles and has also been proven to be expensive.

The law in question was enacted by the Parliament in 1996. Article One of the law stipulates a grace period of five years, starting from the day the law took effect, for the government to develop the infrastructure of higher learning institutions in a bid to smoothen the implementation of this law. The court clarified the right of education is guaranteed by the Constitution as stated in Articles 13 & 14 wherein education is considered a fundamental requisite for the progress of society.

Education is assured and promoted by the State, such that everyone has the right to choose the type of education which suits his objectives and abilities. The court pointed out that as long as the constitutional rights on this matter have not been limited or ‘squeezed’, the issue is in the hands of the legislative authority so the court has no control over codifying the law and the related regulations.

On the petitioners’ argument regarding the difficulties faced by students in finding suitable sectors, the court affirmed that the problem is the implementation of the law, not its constitutionality. Despite the fact that segregation is a purely Islamic law, it becomes legally binding only when the legislators enact it; hence, the matter has no relation with constitutionality as it is under the jurisdiction of legislators, the court added. In its concluding statement, the court explained the allegation made by the petitioners concerning violation of articles 7, 8, 13, 14, 17, 19 and 40 of the Constitution is baseless, so it rejected the petition.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court, headed by Judge Yusuf Al-Mutawa, upheld the petition filed by Attorney Faisal Al-Enezi who challenged the constitutionality of the third clause of the second article of Law No. 68/2015, stipulating that the owners of domestic labor offices must be holders of high school certificates and above, and they should have no physical disability which could affect their work.

The court argued that the contentious clause in the Domestic Labor Office Law is against several articles of the Constitution which guarantee equality among citizens. Previously, the owners of many domestic labor offices have demanded for amendment of the law; claiming its provisions are not only unfair for them but also led to the closure of more than 320 offices and deprived their employees of the rights which they enjoyed for more than 25 years. They described the law as unstudied especially since the recommendations of the main concerned individuals were not considered prior to the approval of the law.

According to Al-Enezi, who represented about 120 owners of labor offices; he challenged the controversial clause based on Article 29 of the Constitution which stating, “All people are equal in human dignity, public rights and duties before the law without distinction based on race, origin, language or religion.” Al-Enezi pointed out that although the Constitution stood in favor of the petitioners, the court’s ruling did not explain the reason behind the requirement for a high school certificate or higher and its impact on the domestic labor offices. He argued many businesses in the country are not governed by this regulation and this means anyone can engage in such activities regardless of their academic achievements.

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