Kuwaiti women judges to oversee polls for first time

KUWAIT: For the first time in the country’s history, Kuwaiti women will be among judicial authorities overseeing a national election in Kuwait. Since 2015, 22 Kuwaiti women have won positions as prosecutors and some of these will be heading and supervising election committees for the 2016 parliamentary polls this coming Saturday.

The participation of female prosecutors in the electoral process is a law-based notion rather than its relation to gender, said Dr Mohammad Al-Faili, professor of constitutional law at Kuwait University (KU), said yesterday.

Professor of Political Sciences at KU Dr Hassan Jawhar said that having women prosecutors is the “sound implementation of the law, which clearly authorizes the public prosecution; as a neutral party, to supervise elections.” Jawhar told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that the law did not specify the gender of who is to supervise the electoral process. “The Judicial Higher Council’s decision to assign women in public prosecution might have come out of Kuwait’s international commitments, but empowering women is a sheer Kuwaiti decision,” he said.

Women in Kuwait did not gain the right to vote until May 2005 but only and women voted for the first time in the June 2006 parliamentary polls. It wasn’t until three years later in the 2009 elections that four women broke the glass barrier and finally won seats in parliament.

Kuwait women continue to face discrimination in law and society. They are not allowed to pass their nationality to their children nor do they receive equal housing or other benefits as their male counterparts. In the Kuwait penal code, Article 153 allows any man who kills his female relation for ‘engaging in illicit sexual acts’ will be punished with a misdemeanor charge of up to three years in jail or a 3,000 rupee fine.

This article was published on 22/11/2016