January 17, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 7852

Kuwaiti Columnist: The Humanity And Civility Of A Country Is Measured By The Status Of Women In It

January 17, 2019
Kuwait, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 7852

In an October 25, 2018 article in the English-language Kuwaiti daily Arab Times, liberal journalist Ahmad Al-Sarraf wrote that the humanity and civility of a country are measured by the status it accords to its women, among other criteria. He lamented the fact that the Kuwaiti authorities maintain some "backward" and "illogical" laws, for example the law stating that only a man can consent to a medical procedure for a relative. It is absurd, noted Al-Sarraf, that a female doctor cannot consent to an operation on her mother or father, while her alcoholic brother can, just because he is a man. Al-Sarraf therefore welcomed an initiative by Kuwaiti MP 'Abdul Wahhab Al-Babtain to amend this law.

The following is Al-Saraff's article:[1]

Ahmad Al-Sarraf (image: Arab Times, Kuwait)

"We repeat for a hundred thousand times that the status of any state and its civilized progress and humanity are measured by, among other things, the interest of that country in educating its children, caring for the people with special needs, the health of the community and providing security for them and caring for all other vital issues. However, the most important indicator to measure all this is the status of women. The lower the status, the lower the morals of that society and lower the level of such society among nations and it is sad to say the examples are more than we can count.

"A lot of men and a few backward women are unaware that a woman is not only a mere woman but is a mother, a sister and a wife; a friend and a daughter and a lovable person and all that is beautiful in life and the proportion is not less than half the society. A woman carries on her shoulders vital responsibilities of the survival of mankind and progress. How can some people after all this, look at a woman as something shameful?

"In the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, which has been unable to resist underdevelopment in parts of it, no woman, even an elderly one, a physicist, a minister, or a Nobel laureate, can sign hospital documents on behalf of her relative to give consent for operation or any such condition. All this hassle happens regardless of the relationship of this woman to the patient to the extent the patient suffers either from receiving treatment, undergoing surgery and even when it comes to leaving the hospital. This can only be done by a male family member who has the prestige to sign pledges and necessary documents. The tragedy reaches its climax when a female doctor from outside the hospital, for example, is not allowed to sign the papers necessary for an operation for her father or her mother, but her brother can even if he is an alcoholic, drug addict, a criminal and may have even been just released from the prison, all this, just because he is ‘man’.

"What some people do not want to know and believe is that women, in civilized societies in particular, have roles, jobs and take up posts that are far superior to what men do. Some well-known activists, such as [journalist and women's rights activist] Iqbal Al-Ahmad, have tried to change this miserable reality in government hospitals in particular and cancel this medical procedure which is not based on any logic or law, but mere medical traditions, if any such things, stood in the way of achieving multiple demands to stop this inhuman and uncivilized method, the situation is still the same and causing a state of depression and injustice and backwardness to many without the support of logic.

"Therefore, I am pleased to hear the intention of MP 'Abdul Wahhab Al-Babtain to submit a proposal to the National Assembly [the Kuwaiti parliament] on this issue for the need to accept the signature of the patient’s relative, especially the first degree, regardless of gender. He insisted, male chauvinism in such cases is funny and does not mean anything, especially since this masculinity cannot be proven in some men."


[1] Arab Times (Kuwait), October 25, 2018.

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