Abuse rampant as 860 violence cases against women in Kuwait recorded this year

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Awareness among women to demand their rights on increase

Al-Rifai and Dr. Ashour

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 30: While the scope of violence against women expanded in the country this year; there has also been a significant increase in the number of women resorting to human rights and security authorities to obtain their rights — an indication of the high level of awareness among women, reports Al-Qabas daily. A number of lawyers and activists in the field of human rights protection confirmed that the laws enforced in the country provide the necessary legal protection for women; so women are keen on protecting themselves.

Improvement of the reporting mechanism for the Public Prosecution to receive domestic violence cases has contributed to expanding legal protection for battered women. The daily obtained a copy of the special human rights report, stating that 138 battered women resorted to human rights and security authorities in 2021; while a study carried out by Kuwait Human Rights Society showed that 860 violent cases have been filed in 2022 so far – double the number of cases filed in previous years.

According to the study, the cases of abused women this year are categorized into economic, psychological, emotional, physical and human trafficking – a total of 345 complaints; while the number of those who were subjected to cyber violence reached 412. Human rights activist Athraa Al-Rifai believes that women have become more aware and they no longer tolerate domestic violence, considering the implementation of laws aimed at protecting them.

She stressed the importance of enforcing the Protection Law properly and for the National Committee on Family Protection to lay down a general policy, in addition to the establishment of shelters for victims. She affirmed more women now have the courage to seek protection for themselves, owing to the issuance of laws in this regard. She also cited the big improvement in the mechanism for reporting domestic violence cases to the Public Prosecution, asserting this has greatly contributed to the expansion of legal protection for battered women. She disclosed some women are exposed to extortion, which easily transforms from domestic violence to cyber violence; prompting the Ministry of Interior to intensify efforts in protecting victims of cyber violence or bullying through the allocation of a hotline number of this purpose.

Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Kuwaiti Society for National Fraternity Dr Bibi Ashour called on the government to provide shelters for victims and activate the role of the National Committee on Domestic Violence to deal with the rising cases of violence against women in the country. She told the daily that civil society movements coordinated with the government and Parliament in guaranteeing the rights of women and protecting abused women in the past; but they need to intensify their efforts in protecting women and providing shelters for battered women. Journalist and political activist Iqbal Al- Ahmad pointed out that the spread of the ‘culture of shame’ in Arab societies, including the Kuwaiti society, hinders ongoing efforts to stop the inhumane acts against women – physical and psychological assault.

She stressed that a high percentage of women condone such violence due to societal pressure. In her interview with the daily, Al-Ahmad urged battered women to file a complaint immediately. She said this will lead to a remarkable decrease in the number of assault cases. She added most women do not report being subjected to violence. They do not scream loudly, so the competent legal and psychological authorities could hear them; thereby, making it difficult to do research on violence against women, she revealed. She cited statistics from the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is based on a study on domestic violence in Kuwaiti society, showing that a high percentage of women tolerate emotional and verbal violence; while the registered number of abused women is not accurate due to the social obstacles they are facing.

Attorney Osama Al-Sanad confirmed that the spread of social media led to an increase in the number of women complaining about electronic blackmail, especially the threat to publish private photos or information that could be disgraceful if the conditions of the blackmailers are not met. He said the statistics issued in 2021 indicate that 80 percent of domestic violence victims withdraw lawsuits against the accused, then the issue ends and no one follows up the cases after that.

He pointed out that such behavior tempts the accused to commit the crime again, stressing the need to pass legislation on establishing specialized agencies to follow up domestic violence cases even after an amicable settlement in order to ensure the safety of the victims. He explained the Domestic Violence Law obliges anyone who witnesses domestic violence to report it to the authorities and whoever fails to do so will be penalized as per the Penal Code — imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year. Chairman of the society’s Complaints Committee Mishari Al-Sanad confirmed the strong coordination between government agencies in dealing with violence cases; indicating that 89 percent of recorded violence cases include cyber bullying, threatening to publish personal information and sending unwanted messages.

On the recorded human trafficking cases, Al-Sanad said these cases are considered one of the types of violence committed against women and girls or the exploitation of people by means of force, fraud, coercion or deception; disclosing 103 such cases have been recorded so far.

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