Mubarak AlKabeer Business Administration:
The wali is usually the woman's father, or in his absence, her brother, uncle, or other close male relative. In other words, a woman cannot marry the partner of her choice without the prior approval of her family. Yet, in cases in which the father of a Kuwaiti woman has refused her choice of husband, the Sunni Family Law grants a woman the right to appeal the decision of her wali in family court. Some women opt to marry outside Kuwait to circumvent the marriage restrictions.
Nevertheless, a marriage contracted outside Kuwait is not legally recognized within the country; the head of the bride's family has the right to ask the court to annul the marriage. The minimum legal age for marriage is 15 for girls and 17 for boys. Within the urban community, it is rare for girls to be married at an early age or forced into marriage. However, arranged marriages between families of similar social standings are still the norm.
A woman can refuse to marry altogether and remain single, but the social burden placed on aging single women is so high that most women prefer an unhappy marriage to facing the social stigma of the spinster label. Kuwait's penal code prohibits the practice of all forms of slavery, torture, cruelty, or degrading punishments against any person regardless of age, gender, religion, or nationality. Slavery-like practices such as forced marriages and forbidding a person to leave the home are rarely reported.
There are no forms of protection against these practices. Kuwait's labor laws specify that a working day should be restricted to eight hours, yet female domestic workers are often underpaid and forced to endure long working hours. There are also reports of abuse of domestic workers and foreign women in the workplace. Domestic workers can take legal recourse against their employers by filing complaints directly with the Dasma police station — the main center for dealing with employer abuse cases, or with Kuwait's administrative courts.
Kuwait has been drafting a new labor law to protect the rights of domestic workers. Yet by the end of , the law had not been finalized.
While domestic violence is a concern in Kuwait, the lack of comprehensive data and research on this issue makes it difficult to assess the severity of the problem. No known NGO or government office efficiently works to collect such statistics. The scarcity of analyzed data on domestic violence in Kuwait is partly due to the social belief that this issue is a family affair. Victims of abuse are often reluctant to file complaints with the police due to fear and shame, and little effort has gone into providing assistance or protection to the victims.
There are no laws against domestic violence, and there are no shelters, support centers, or free legal services to aid female victims. Rape and sexual assault outside marriage tend to receive more attention from the police and the press than incidents of domestic violence. There have been reports of the physical abuse of female detainees under police custody, but no monitoring mechanism is in place to record such violations on a regular basis.
Women's groups have not been able to work effectively to promote and actualize women's rights surrounding autonomy and personal freedom in Kuwait.
In , issues of domestic violence and the exploitation of domestic workers did not feature highly in the campaigns of Kuwaiti women's rights groups and received only sporadic coverage in the press. Kuwaiti women's groups did advocate for amendments to a number of articles that curtail women's rights within marriage, including the right to choose one's husband and an increase in the minimum age of marriage for girls.
Kuwaiti women are entitled to own and have full and independent use of their land, property, income, and assets. A woman's right to inheritance, as defined in the family law and in accordance with Islamic Shari'a, stipulates that a brother should receive double his sister's share. Kuwaiti women are freely able to enter into business and financial contracts and activities at all levels.
Women have the right of ownership and the right to dispose of assets, as well as the legal right to undertake civil and commercial transactions, conclude contracts, and engage in commercial and financial transactions. It is not necessary for a woman to obtain the consent of a husband or father to exercise these rights.
By law, any Kuwaiti over 21 years of age may conduct any commercial activity in Kuwait provided that he or she is not affected by a personal legal restriction, such as a criminal record. All Kuwaiti citizens, men and women, are guaranteed free and equal access to the education system, from primary school through the university level.
Students are also provided with equal opportunities to study abroad. However, Kuwaiti women are required to seek the permission of their male authority figures to accept study-abroad scholarships.
Kuwaiti women comprise almost two-thirds of university-level students and more than half of the student population of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training. Women are enrolled in all major subjects and graduate at higher rates than men. In the mids, Kuwait University introduced different GPA requirements for the admission of female and male students, with the goal of reducing the percentage of female students in certain academic fields.
Female students are now required to have a 3. Women must possess a 3. A rationale for such policies is the dilemma presented by the right of a woman's male guardian or husband to restrict her right to work outside the home.
Because of instances in which women graduates of professional schools have been forbidden to work, some believe that admitting a woman to medical school may ultimately be a waste of that seat, as after graduation she may not be able to pursue the profession.
A male student, by contrast, has no such constraints. Thus the odd logic that while a male student may be less qualified than a woman, he will certainly work as a professional after graduation, while the woman may not be able to do so. Women's access to education began in the s and has since provided Kuwaiti women with opportunities that have enabled them to become financially independent and pursue diverse careers.
Women's contributions to the Kuwaiti labor force increased from 20 percent in to 40 percent in , with the majority of the increased number of female employees filling positions within the public sector. Women can be found in most professional fields including engineering, architecture, medicine, and law. Yet, they do not have full freedom to choose their professions; women are prohibited from working in the police, the army, and the judiciary.
Women in Kuwait generally receive equal pay for equal work in the public and private sectors. According to labor laws, a woman who performs the same work as a man must be paid equal remuneration. If a woman feels that she has been discriminated against, she may file a complaint directly to the administrative court or to the National Assembly's Human Rights Committee. There are no laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. Women workers, particularly foreign women and domestic employees, are in urgent need of such laws.
Standard working hours for men apply equally to women, with the exclusion of night work. With the exception of a few professions and places of employment, women in Kuwait are forbidden to work at night, or in some cases after midnight. Employers are obliged to arrange transportation for women who work at night. These labor restrictions apply to both private and government offices, as well as jobs within the informal sector. All working women are entitled to maternity leave for up to two months at full pay.
They may receive an additional four months at half pay, provided they present a medical certificate declaring that their illness was a result of the pregnancy. Day care facilities for children aged three to six years are widely available and affordable in all parts of Kuwait; some are provided by the Kuwaiti government, others are privately run.
Advocacy on such concerns as the right to education, inheritance, and employment is strong. At the same time, groups of conservative Islamists have also been demanding that women "return to the household. They have blocked the passage of a women's suffrage bill and the admission of women to the military. In , Islamists succeeded in passing a bill that obligates Kuwait University and post-secondary colleges to incorporate building changes to ensure gender segregation.
Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a Cabinet and a National Assembly that is elected every four years. The parliament serves as a legislative body with the power to overturn the decrees issued by the Emir — the head of state. Males who are 21 and over and have been citizens for at least 20 years and are not members of the military are granted the right to vote and seek election to the National Assembly.
This means that suffrage is restricted to 14 percent of the population. There are no formal political parties; instead, there are quasi-political groups of Islamists extreme conservatives and liberals, who operate within voluntary organizations NGOs and are active in the National Assembly.
Women are also forbidden to run for office or vote in the municipal council elections. In recent years, the Emir of Kuwait and the Cabinet have attempted to integrate women into the political system. In May , during an interregnum between parliaments, the Emir promulgated a decree granting women the right to run for office and to vote in parliamentary and municipal elections.
Yet, in November , the parliament voted down the decree. In October , the government approved a bill that would grant women the right to vote and run in municipal council elections. However, the bill was rejected during the same year by the parliament.
Since the s, Kuwaiti women have used every opportunity to bring their demands for political rights to the attention of the National Assembly. They have organized and held public demonstrations to protest against gender discrimination and have marched to the polling station to protest their lack of equal political rights during parliamentary elections.
While women's right to assemble is moderately respected by the Kuwaiti government, women's rights groups face structural restrictions on their ability to create and manage their organizations. Voluntary associations are required to have an elected board, a written constitution, and a dues-paying membership.
In , the government dissolved all unlicensed associations. The Kuwait Human Rights Society, who had been waiting for a license since , was finally officially licensed in August A license is required before an NGO can open an office or formally discuss rights issues with the government. Kuwaiti women have limited freedom of expression. Stiff penalties for violations of the press laws have contributed to increased self-censorship and an avoidance of controversial issues.
In January , charges were brought against two female authors for writing novels that allegedly contained improper and immoral language. Women are not represented in Kuwait's judiciary. While they may hold positions as investigative judges, women are not permitted to serve as judges in court.
However, Kuwaiti women do hold relatively senior positions within the ministries of Kuwait. Formal political parties are banned in Kuwait, but political groups often operate informally as political organizations. Kuwaiti women are involved in all major political groups and occasionally serve as founding members or contributing board members. Women are not invited to fill leadership positions in Islamic organizations. They are active, however, in promoting these groups' ideologies and visions of an Islamic order-calling for the implementation of the rules of Shari'a and gender segregation in public places.
Kuwaiti women are involved in civic life issues and participate in mixed-gender professional clubs and societies as both members and board members. Women also have the right to join unions and local cooperative stores, where they can vote and hold office. While Kuwait does not have a freedom of information act, women do have some freedom to gain access to and use information to empower themselves in both their civil and political lives.
Internet usage has increased among young women and is easily accessible for many at home, in offices, and in public cafes. The Internet has provided Kuwaiti women with a forum to air their views and freely communicate with others on a variety of issues.
Kuwait has an extensive welfare system. The state also offers up-to-date health care services to all residents at minimal cost. Citizens are free to participate in community life and non-Kuwaitis enjoy the right to form their own cultural associations openly.
Women have some freedom to make independent decisions about their health and reproductive rights. While Kuwait does not have a government-sponsored family planning program, research has shown that the contraceptive needs of the majority of married women are adequately met. Contraceptives are easily available and affordable; birth control pills and the IUD are available through government health services, and private pharmacies offer birth control pills without a prescription.
Contraceptive use is significantly higher among educated Kuwaiti women. Those who disapprove of contraception in Kuwait tend to believe that family planning is forbidden by Islam. Abortion is prohibited and constitutes a criminal act. Under the penal code, any person "who supplies, or is instrumental in supplying a pregnant or non-pregnant woman with drugs or other harmful substances, with or without her consent, or who uses force or any other means to induce an abortion shall be liable to a penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has recommended that the Kuwaiti government amend this law and make provisions for the protection of the right to life of pregnant women. Women have full and equal access to health care. Health care services at government-run clinics and hospitals are generally provided free of charge or at a low cost for all residents of Kuwait, including Kuwait's non-citizens and migrant workers.
Since the mids, the government and women's groups have launched campaigns to raise women's awareness about female health issues like breast cancer and osteoporosis. Although there are no reliable data available, women seem to be protected from harmful practices such as virginity tests and female genital mutilation.
Early marriage has grown uncommon and cross-cousin marriages are no longer widely practiced. Unmarried sons and daughters, regardless of their age, are expected to live with their families. Unlike foreign-born women who reside in Kuwait, a single Kuwaiti woman cannot rent her own dwelling. While such a policy is not enshrined in law, landlords often refuse to rent apartments to Kuwaiti women unless they can provide proof of marriage. Housing is a serious problem for Kuwaiti women, particularly divorced women from low-income groups.
Women are excluded from Kuwait's low-interest loan policy, which is an initiative provided to married men to encourage them to build their own homes. Kuwait's housing law also forbids Kuwaiti women from owning government-supplied or subsidized housing that is available to Kuwaiti men by virtue of their positions as rab al'usra heads of families.
The only exception to this law is for divorced women with children who can claim a rent allowance if they do not intend to remarry and have no one to support them. However, divorced women are expected to share the government-subsidized housing with their former husbands, who often force them to move out.
The government has been reluctant to address the problem of housing for women and has failed to offer satisfactory solutions. The state has constructed special apartment buildings to house divorced women and childless couples, but this has resulted in the isolation and marginalization of female heads of households.
Efforts to integrate divorced women into the society remain limited and lack a women's human rights perspective. In , Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaiti men lost the right to own government housing; the National Assembly rejected a proposal that would have overturned this law in October In recent years, Kuwait has witnessed an increase in the number of impoverished female heads of households.
Check out the FAQ. A personalized Thank You written on the back of a postcard with an image from Women of Kuwait on the front. Limited edition 3"x3" trading cards featuring 25 Women from the" women of Kuwait "project, available to Kickstarter backers only. You get two hardcover books with a handwritten message of thanks on the inside; one for you and one for a family member or friend! Or I can custom make a photography lesson for you. Bring your camera and spend an afternoon with me We'll explore this beautiful city armed with cameras and, as we meander, you can ask me anything you'd like there is a high probability I'll get a few stellar portraits of you while we're at it!
You'll really get to pick my brain An opportunity to have a portrait photoshoot with me for your family, band, or you. Up to 2 hours location shoot, with a selection of up to 10 digital images delivered as high resolution files. And signed a hardback copy of the book with a handwritten message of thanks on the inside.
Sep 9, - Oct 4, 24 days. Share this project Done. Tweet Share Pin Email. This intimate collection of environmental portraits and text provides a never-before-seen look at what it means to be a young woman in Kuwait Bringing this book to life will take a lot more than the dream that compels me to create it.
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Tamara Qabazard, 29, Single, Veterinarian at Kuwait Zoo () I think women in Kuwait have more equality to men than women in other gulf countries. Titled “Women of Kuwait,” the project examines eleven Kuwaiti females between the ages of 20 to 40 in various professions and marital statuses, pictured in their bedrooms. “I chose the bedroom because it’s the most private place and I wanted to show the raw side of women,” Al Asaker says. Project “Women of Kuwait” have been featured in galleries and photography festivals including: March 7, , Solo Show at the Permanent Mission of the State of .