By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Violence against women by men in Kuwait has become noticeable after the advent of social media, as witnesses record incidents to use as evidence to support abused women at police stations. But many battered women give up their rights after reporting their husbands, brothers or fathers at police stations, and this is due to many reasons. Kuwait Times discussed with lawyer and activist Niveen Maraafi the reasons that battered women drop their complaints, despite the possibility that they could be exposed to another attack that could leave them injured, suffer from mental health issues or in some cases get killed.
Maraafi stressed the main reason that leads women to withdraw their cases is local traditions that pressure women to obey their husbands and justify violence against them. “In addition, the family pressure that is on these women is not easy. The family take advantage of her children and exploit her maternal affection to urge their mother to drop the complaint against the male abuser, their father for an example. Her rights then will be completely forfeited, especially as she is exposed to more abuse,” she said.
Maraafi pointed out there are several methods abusers uses in order to make battered women withdraw their complaints —one of them is blackmailing her with her children. “When the woman withdraws the case, no action will be taken from the police side to follow up with the victim to make sure she is safe, as the case will be completely closed and end at that point,” she explained.
Regarding the role of laws set to protect women from abusers, she explained there are some laws in Kuwait subject to local traditions that lead to dropping cases. “Despite the danger to the victim that is clear to the authorities, if she withdraws the case, there is nothing they can do,” Maraafi said. Pointing out that many abuse cases against women and dropping of complaints is part of their misunderstanding of religion. “The concept of Islamic law the way people explain by themselves is totally wrong, as it is forbidden in Islam for men to abuse their wives. The evidence of this is the wife has the right to divorce her husband due to harm, according to sharia laws,” she added.
Meanwhile, from a legal point of view, Maraafi suggested a couple of solutions that can contribute to protecting women from their abusers after withdrawing cases. “There should be specialized authorities that follow up the criminal complaint without the woman’s intervention in the event of the case’s withdrawal, in addition to holding abusers accountable. Also, not shelving the case once the woman withdraws it and following up with her,” she said. “Besides this, they should allow concerned authorities to have the right to intervene in the victim’s case till the end.”