Kuwaiti women judges to over­see polls for first time

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

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.

Kuwaiti 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.

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