The phenomenon of domestic violence is not new to our societies, but it has become widespread. It has attracted the attention of psychologists and social activists in order to raise awareness about it, because of the negative effects on families and victims. This violence is not necessarily in the form of physical assault – it could be a verbal attack against the wife or children.
I was wondering where these women go. Some go to the police station, but their cases are resolved ‘amicably’ and the woman is sent back to the house of the violator. Naturally, these women face a problem, because they are subjected to more violence as a result of their reporting to the police. With further research, I discovered that many women are ignorant of their rights. Therefore, the establishment of a shelter for abused women to protect them and raise their awareness of their legal rights is very important.
It is regrettable that the perpetrators of this crime often find justifications for carrying it out. This problem has various factors and multiple causes, and talking about the causes and treatment is part of the solution. I believe domestic violence is offensive to all and must be addressed openly and clearly in a firm manner.
In the absence of many institutions that seek to preserve the dignity of abused women, a licensed volunteer group called Eithar Kuwait has appeared, which aims to combat violence against women in Kuwait. In 2017, the Fener Center was inaugurated by the minister of social affairs. It is affiliated to the supreme council for family affairs and specializes in communicating with victims of domestic violence.
But I do not know if the mission of this place has been accomplished. Studies have revealed that approximately 41 percent of married women suffer from marital violence, and the fear factor prevents them from reporting their husbands to police, in addition to customs and traditions. We are in 2019, where the world seeks to make women partners of men in all leadership positions, and violence against women is a step backwards in any society. I searched for the real number of abused women in Kuwait and discovered that this figure is not publicized. I think the reason is fear by the victim in reporting the person who has abused her.
Nov 25 is the day approved by the UN General Assembly to call for an end to violence against women. This day was not announced by the United Nations in vain, but to increase awareness of suffering of women and develop legal and therapeutic solutions, both medically and psychologically. But this day passed in Kuwait without any mention, except in Al-Qabas newspaper, which published a report with frightening figures of cases of violence against women, where the proportion of abused women was 53 percent.
I understand that maybe the victims conceal their suffering and do not report it over fears of scandal or social anger against them. I wonder why this silence and indifference in dealing with a humanitarian issue, as if it is a normal thing. It is regrettable that domestic violence in macho societies is seen as acceptable, so it is necessary to activate the family protection law and recognize that domestic violence is a crime against women. We must raise our voices to protect these women.
Statistics from the United Nations show that violence affects 70 percent of women worldwide, but figures are not clear in Kuwait due to social barriers. I know that there is fear in Gulf societies to address this issue, and some consider a shelter as a step to subvert society by encouraging women to rebel. But women are like men – their human rights must not be harmed and silence is a crime against humanity. I hope the Human Rights Council and all women’s rights activists publish new statistics on the subject and conduct more awareness campaigns for women.
By Muna Al-Fuzai