May (27 years) has always suffered from her husband's physical, psychological and financial abuse, reaching the point of forcibly extracting her monthly salary from her, and the husband went so far as to find that the battered young woman did not escape the request for divorce while relinquishing all her rights in exchange for her freedom deed.
Mai, "a pseudonym, did not want to reveal her true identity", lives in Kuwait and came with her husband from her country. She told Al Jazeera Net that she was afraid of resorting to the police or the court.
She added that "the courts are long," and that she does not act well in estrangement and does not know how she should have started or where, so she preferred to forfeit her rights and reach a settlement with her husband to obtain her divorce from him, even if she was the biggest loser.
Two years during which May experienced the violence she did not suffer, as if the causes of alienation alone were not enough, during which she kept silence for fear of the unknown awaiting her.
Mai's condition is not different from that of many women in Kuwait, both citizens and immigrants.
There are many stories and the one affected is the woman, the weakest link that affects silence every time, for fear of society’s words or in the interest of children if the battered is the husband, and weakness and helplessness if the victim is the father or the mother.
Women affect silence for fear of society or concern for children if the battered is the husband, and weakness if the abused is the father or mother (Getty Images)
Kuwaiti women launched self-initiatives to protect women from domestic violence, and provide them with protection and shelter until the state enacts an effective law to deter anyone who violates it and attacks women physically, psychologically, verbally or financially.
In November 2017, after the struggle of a number of Kuwaiti activists and community groups to protect the victims of violence, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Affairs opened a listening and shelter home to protect women who have been abused, but the shelter was without a legal umbrella.
The problem was that there was no deterrent law that prevents domestic violence or exposure to harm to women, and punishes all who do so, so the house remained empty and did not achieve any benefit from its establishment.
The "altruism" campaign
This campaign is known as one of the most important campaigns that was established to demand the rights of women victims of violence and to provide them with protection, as the campaign was officially born in 2016 by both Sheikha Al-Nafisi and Noor Al-Mukhlid, and they began their struggle using social media sites to encourage battered women to communicate with the campaign team to secure assistance and protection for them. The campaign used to provide shelter and protection for 70 women with different nationalities until 2018, according to their statements in an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Rai.
Article 153 of the Penal Code
The founders of the Ethar campaign stated that their move began after reviewing Article 153 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code relating to honor crimes, which distinguishes between the two sexes in terms of classification of crimes.
The crime committed by a man against a woman is classified as a misdemeanor under the name of "honor crime". The penalty for which is a fine of 14 Kuwaiti dinars (one Kuwaiti dinar equals about $ 3.28) and three years imprisonment or either of these two penalties.
On the other hand, a woman’s crime is classified in the same case as a “criminal” murder, according to their statement in the same interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Rai.
Approval of the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence
After a struggle that lasted for several years led by campaigns to protect women and societal parties, the Kuwaiti National Assembly a few days ago approved the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, in an important step to protect against all forms of violent and abusive treatment, whether physical, psychological, sexual or financial, actually, or by refraining from doing and threatening them. Which may be committed by a family member against one or more of it, according to the acts or crimes stipulated in all national legislation.
The Kuwaiti National Assembly approved by majority the adoption of the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence (Kuwaiti Press)
The most prominent penalties
The law stipulates in Article 5 that shelters for victims of family violence shall be established to complement the child protection centers provided for in Article 77 of Law No. 21 of 2015 on the Rights of the Child, which is affiliated with the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and a decision is issued by the President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, as I mentioned. Al Qabas Kuwaiti Newspaper.
It specializes in providing shelters for victims of domestic violence, in addition to family, psychological, social and health counseling, rehabilitation services for the victim and the aggressor in coordination with the Ministry of Health, and legal aid for the victim when needed, and a hotline is also established to receive reports and complaints about domestic violence cases.
According to Article 13, whoever attempts to coerce the victim in a domestic violence crime with the aim of reversing his complaint is punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than a week and not exceeding six months and a fine of not less than 100 dinars (about $ 330) and not more than For one thousand Kuwaiti dinars (about $ 3,300) or either of these two penalties, unless any other law stipulates a more severe penalty.
As for Article 20, it stipulates the following: “Without prejudice to any more severe penalty, anyone who violates the penalty shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than a month and not exceeding three months, and a fine of not less than 100 dinars and not more than 500 dinars (about $ 1,600) or one of these two penalties. In the event of a return within two years, the penalty is imprisonment for a period of no less than three months and not exceeding six months, and a fine of not less than 500 dinars and not more than one thousand dinars, or one of these two penalties.