This May, Kuwait completes 55 years of United Nations (UN) membership as one of the leading countries that supports human rights activities worldwide and help other countries fi ghting for the rights of their citizens by providing fi nancial and moral assistance and standing by their side. It is a pleasure to congratulate the citizens of Kuwait and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah on this anniversary. Nevertheless, women in Kuwait still face prejudiced and unfair positions in terms of various laws and rights which are supposed to provide them with rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, the national laws differentiate women in certain jobs, as well as the criminal and nationality laws that give men much powers and tools than women. I believe some of the national laws are sexist.
While the doctrines of Islam stipulate different Shariah fatwas and diverse points of view on women serving as judges who conduct hearings and issue judgments, women are, in reality, forbidden from becoming judges and being treated fairly. All Islam doctrines appear to agree on this, but the truth is that disputes are still ongoing regarding this subject. In Islam, both the Sunnis and Shiites consist of many doctrines or schools explaining religious beliefs to people; such as ¡°Hanafi , Malki, Shafei, IthnaAshari, Esmaieli, Yasedi …¡± and the list goes on. Each school has its own understanding of women being judges and different principles on ¡®why¡¯ they could or could not be judges, which clearly means the matter has yet to be settled. Regrettably, the unjust law on women becoming judges is illogical; hence, it is an act of sexism.
The Criminal Law has a paradoxical orientation towards women as Law No. 153 states that if a man catches his wife, mother, sister or daughter committing adultery ¡ª a married woman having sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband ¡ª and kills her or the man or both of them, he will not be charged for murder. He will only face imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years! On the other hand, women who are being cheated on daily cannot do anything about it!! Therefore, the law sees marital infi delity as an alibi for the man to kill and get away with just three years imprisonment as he is a very sensitive being that is allowed to kill under certain circumstances. Is it logical and acceptable to encourage men to kill? If the law sees marital infi delity as an acceptable alibi for men, then why not apply the same to women, considering women are usually cheated on as we see and hear from the news and the people we know? We see the big number of divorce lawsuits being fi led by women because they were cheated on and neglected! Moreover, the Nationality Law gives men a plethora of powers and tools to pass on the Kuwaiti nationality to their children, while their female counterparts have nothing. A man can pass on the Kuwaiti nationality to his children as stated in the fi rst article: ¡°Every man who is born in Kuwait and lived here for a certain period can obtain nationality within this period as per code number one.¡±
The second article states that children born of a Kuwaiti father gets the Kuwaiti nationality. Article Seven gives the children the same right because their father is a Kuwaiti. Women can only watch men passing on their nationality to their children and women cannot do anything about it. Article Four states women might pass on the Kuwaiti nationality to their children if they are divorced. This is not considered a right given to women because the law clearly says ¡®might¡¯, which means the government has the fi nal word in this regard. Women may or may not pass on the nationality as the law does not obligate the country to give the nationality to the children of women. The fi rst article of the International Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that, ¡°Everyone is born free and equal in rights and dignity, and they have to be treated equally.¡± The international law is keen on maintaining peace, whereas as the national law insists on taking steps backward … against humanity. . . .
Email: lawyeratyabalshatti@ gmail.com
By Atyab Alshatti, Esq.