Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwaiti Women, Minors from Cradle to Grave

In an article in today’s Kuwait Times sure to raise discussions throughout Kuwait, staff writer Ahmad Al-Khaled brings up the laws requiring Kuwaiti women to have a husband /father/ guardian present to apply for a passport and other legal papers:

Published Date: January 15, 2008
By Ahmad Al-Khaled, Staff writer

KUWAIT: The issue of gender equality under the law has come under fire of late after an exasperated Kuwaiti woman wrote to a local Arabic newspaper telling the tale of her frustrated quest to renew her passport and was told the law required her to be accompanied by her male guardian. “It is frustrating that we are not considered equipped to act as our own guardians in 2008,” said a middle-aged Kuwaiti wife and mother of five, Um Talal, who read the woman’s letter describing how she was denied the right to renew her passport unless her husband accompanied her to the ministry.

While Kuwait is a Muslim nation, Kuwaiti law is not solely Sharia based, although it uses Sharia as a primary source of legislation according to the Constitution. Adult-aged Kuwaiti women are required under the law to be accompanied by their husband or father to renew their passports. If their father and husband are deceased or should they be divorced from their husband, they may be required to provide authorities with proof of their male guardian’s death or proof of their marital status.

“Why should we be required to offer such proof. It is insulting to be treated as if we Kuwaiti women are in need of guardianship. Shame on the government for continuing to allow such a law to remain in the books,” said a 30 something Fala Jassem. “It is not Islamic to treat women poorly, we are not children! Shame on anyone that calls this law Islamic,” said 65-year-old Bedour Bader.

While Kuwaiti women speaking to Kuwait Times were staunchly against the law, Kuwaiti men were divided with some going so far as to call the law a necessary requirement to keep their women protected. “It is a husband’s duty to act as a guardian for his wife. We must lead our families and this includes the wife,” said 53-year-old father of four Abdullah Nasser.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

January 15, 2008 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, News, Relationships, Social Issues, Travel, Women's Issues |


  1. The only reason men would be for this law is that through having this law they would know they have control over women. These men lack confidence and they need the feeling of “control” to make up for their lack of confidence.
    I think these laws that hinder basic womens rights are stupid and outdated.
    “Keep their women protected” my …, God I am so annoyed right now. You know that a Kuwaiti women cannot get married with out her father or brothers approval in COURT!
    This makes me feel like an animal that has to be guided because we don’t know whats right or wrong and we don’t know how to take care of ourselves.

    Comment by Chirp | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. Sorry, I forgot to add, why is it that when a Kuwaiti woman marries a non kuwaiti her children do not get the citizen ship? Are women not considered Kuwaiti citizens?

    Women who didn’t vote for women during the elections are so stupid, men have been in the parliament for decades and they have not made a cm of change for the basic rights of women. Tell me who understands a womans struggle other than a woman?

    Sorry for the double comments, and their long also. I just got very worked up 🙂

    Comment by Chirp | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. I read that too..and I am totally against this! Women are no less than any men in this country! I am sure once they are given their rights they will come forward with a lot of skills…

    Comment by Amu | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  4. You can’t get married without approval, Chirp?? What if you are like 40 and divorced and have met someone and you want to re-marry? You still need permission from somebody? (AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!)

    The citizenship issue is so blatantly unfair to women, I can’t imagine it will stand much longer.

    Please, comment away, dear Chirp. You always have such relevant and lucid comments.

    Amu – Thank God for men like you, who stand up for what is right, and speak out.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  5. See, this is exactly the kind of ignorance and stupidity that I cannot tolerate!

    It’s 200-friggin-08… i’d say WAKE UP!!!

    Comment by kinano | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  6. Its the same in Lebanon, mostly: women cannot pass on their citizenship to their children or to foreign spouses. And while the government’s default assumption is that any woman leaving the country has permission to do so, a husband/father can contact the ISF to forbid her from leaving at emigration.

    On the other hand, its not equal in other countries either. British men can pass on their citizenship to children born abroad, but a British woman cannot – and I understand that similar laws apply in Belgium.

    Not that inequality anywhere makes inequality here any better 🙂

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  7. Chirp, are you sure about that? I think women can get married as long as they are a bove a certain age. I agree, it is a stupid rule.

    Comment by Enigma | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  8. It seems to me that this is a choice that most WOMEN make in Kuwait. As in the U.S., Kuwaiti women voters outnumber men; they chose the people who make their laws. Things will change when WOMEN decide. Just as in the U.S.

    Comment by Phantom Man | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  9. Enigma – Yeah I am sure, you need to have father/brother/male guardian to agree.

    Comment by Chirp | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  10. I agree with Phantom Man; things will change when the women decide. Great post, intlxpatr. But I’m curious about what the law says in the event that a women has no spouse/father/other male guardian. What happens when they want to get a passport?

    Comment by harmonie22 | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  11. I agree wholeheartedly with this article. And the problem is that our women ain’t doing anything about it. They should march on the streets and let their voice to be heard, or at least sign a petition against such laws.

    Comment by Angelo | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  12. I am a Kuwaiti female who is 26 years old. The law is totally ignorant! Women for sure will be trying to change that soon. As for the women getting married, if a girl is over 21 years old and she wants to get married and her father or brother do not approve, she can go to court and the judge will grant her her marriage.

    Comment by Spoiled Rotten | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  13. My friends, I only know a little, and so I am learning from your comments (as usual!)

    I don’t know how laws are made in Kuwait. I know there are some laws in existence that are not enforced – like evidently there is a law stipulating that education will be segregated, or so I am assuming from the MP’s who want the Education Minister to enforce that “law”.

    Who makes the laws? Women marching in the street won’t have a big influence if conservative men are making the laws.

    Thank you, Spoiled Rotten for the information on the age-of-consent in Kuwait – and it makes me wonder, given that Kuwaitis pretty much know each other, would a judge in Kuwait go against a family and grant a marriage a family didn’t want?

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  14. this was probably just one of these ancient rules that were like a tradition in the old days and therefore became a meaningless law. I bet by was6a she wouldn’t need to bring it to the papers or anything.
    And it has nothing to do w/ sharia, no where in shariya does it say women can’t renew their passports ok? if religious ppl insist on that they’re idiots lets just get that out of the way.
    To sum up its a stupid rule that should be abolished

    Comment by Kaos | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  15. I agree that Kuwaiti women and only kuwaite women can change the laws that govern their lives. I am friends with a Kuwaiti man and he sees himself as far superior to any woman on earth. I would not be critical of this mans views but I think this is what has been instilled in him from an early age. I think it is time women in Kuwaite and any other country that oppresses women shoule rise up and be counted.

    Comment by senga | February 4, 2008 | Reply

  16. Good morning, Senga, and thank you for weighing in on this. A lot of women don’t want to give up the “protection” and then find that it also means asking permission, well into your adulthood. I think it all depends on how capable you believe women are. Does estrogen affect women’s judgement more than testosterone affects a man’s judgement?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  17. First of all if women married anyone the wanted it would be a disaster to women, therefore only men know other men and their nature and tricks and they can know if a man is faithful or not.Just like how women know other women when they try to seduce men and men dont realize it XD.The only men who will truly be honest to you are your close male relatives and your future husband!;)remember everyone has view points. It dosent mean if sombodey disagrees with you they are actually stupid and wrong, or if the agree they are right and smart.Nobody is right and none is wrong,its just viewpoints.

    Comment by Revaloutionist | March 30, 2008 | Reply

  18. Thank you for your viewpoint, Revolutionist.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 30, 2008 | Reply

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