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String of crimes sounds alarm in Kuwaiti society

By Sahar Moussa

KUWAIT: A string of gruesome crimes took place in Kuwait in the past couple of weeks, shaking the Kuwaiti society to its core. News about the crimes sparked debate regarding the causes of this sudden spike, with opinions varying between the spread of drugs, influence of social media, effects of the coronavirus and a lack of religious deterrent, among many others.

Last week, a Kuwaiti family was killed inside their home in Ardiya. The suspect stabbed to death the three victims – a couple and their daughter, before stealing valuables and escaping. A few days ago, two sisters stabbed their mother to death and beheaded her inside their home in Doha.

In another incident, a man allegedly stabbed his wife to death then turned himself in to Ardiya police. Detectives headed to the crime scene and found the victim’s body with stab wounds and beating marks, according to a security source. The crime came 24 hours after another suspected murder case was filed after police reportedly arrested a man who allegedly shot his mother-in-law dead in Wafra following a family dispute.

Meanwhile, police recently arrested a young man who assaulted his father by hitting him on the head with a sharp object in Doha. The suspect reportedly fled the scene and damaged several vehicles while being chased by police. On the same day, it was reported that a man was hospitalized in critical condition after he was brutally assaulted by a group of youngsters on Kabd Road. The suspects reportedly abducted the victim, then ran him over before escaping.

Spread of drugs

Is Kuwait witnessing a rise in crimes lately? A Kuwait Times survey on social media revealed 78 percent of respondents agreed the crime rate in Kuwait is on the rise. Some commenters blamed it on the spread of drugs and the easy access to narcotics in Kuwait. In the same vein, official sources have raised a red flag over rising rates of violence and crimes due to the use of drugs and psychoactive substances, especially since there are new types of drugs that are cheap and of bad quality, which cause destructive health and mental complications.

“There is a vast spread of drugs in society and the easy access and availability of drugs has made it easy to be consumed by young people. The abundance of wealth has also made it easy to buy drugs, and no one is stopping this phenomenon,” one commenter wrote. “I believe that drugs are spreading a lot amongst people, especially amongst the youth and adolescents. They are using strong substances such as shabu and Lyrica, and nowadays even teen girls are using drugs. Honestly, I believe that today’s generation is very scary which is causing violence and needs a strong law to stop them from committing crimes,” said Sarah, a Kuwaiti woman.

30 homicides within 14 months

Statistics show that over 30 homicides were committed within 14 months, while there were 3,800 felonies and around 21,000 misdemeanors in 2021. However, some people don’t agree that this is an indication of a surge in crime in Kuwait. “I don’t agree that the crime rate is rising,” said Kuwaiti lawyer Omar Bader Al-Hamdan. “According to official figures, if you compare statistics of crimes 20 years ago and today, they are more or less the same and vary slightly. Nowadays, social media are looking for news to get more hits, and this kind of news helps them get more hits. I don’t deny that the coronavirus pandemic has affected people, but not to an extend that leads them to commit murder.”

One of the commenters on social media also doesn’t agree that the crime rate has increased. “I don’t think that the rate of crime has increased; I just think the rate of social media stories telling us about it has increased,” he argued.

Friday prayers

On the other hand, many still believe that crime is indeed on the rise, listing several reasons they say are behind this surge, including abandonment of religious values, absence of parental guidance, spread of and easy access to sharp objects, violent video games, wasta (connections) and mental instability.

“The crime rates are definitely getting higher, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kuwaiti lawyer and women’s rights activist Nivine Maarafi. “The rates of murder and violence are not normal for the Kuwaiti society, and it is a new thing. There were over 30 homicides within 14 months, and the reasons behind these phenomenon are drugs, domestic violence, lack of religious deterrent and social media.”

Maarafi also suggested that the prolonged closing of worship places during the pandemic has been a factor in making society more violent. “I hope there will be more social awareness in society. Nowadays we are too involved in materialistic appearances that we have forgotten to stress on religion. I believe that Friday prayers are so important to help people be more aware, especially for young people. Because mosques were closed for two years, this has caused a lack in religious awareness amongst people,” added Maarafi.

Law and order

Many people think that the law and order situation has declined in Kuwait, and wasta is what makes people fearless. Furthermore, some people blame the government for ignoring the importance of mental health, which they say may lead to an increase in violence in the society.

“There is neither strong punishment nor religious deterrent, and parents have to play a bigger role in society,” said Aziza, a Kuwaiti woman. “And I also believe that lack of entertainment in Kuwait may cause stress and anxiety among teens that may lead them to release their energy in the wrong direction. Lately, we have seen scary scenes of young people carrying sharp objects in the streets and no one is stopping them. This must be illegal, and a law should be devised to stop them,” she added.

Psychologist Dr Mohammed Al-Khaldi believes that the recent cases of violence are not normal for the Kuwaiti society, but they are still considered within average. “It is still a small number (of crimes) compared to our population,” he told Kuwait Times. According to him, religious morals became weak as the world opened up. “When I teach my children something, they see a different thing applied in reality. Due to these open horizons, we live in a global village,” added Khaldi.

“The importance of mental well-being should not be underestimated,” said one commentor. “The health ministry should run a strong comprehensive campaign to promote mental wellness and invest in more professional structures that can deal with mental health disorders instead of considering this condition a taboo.” “Wasta makes certain people feel invincible and think that the law doesn’t apply to them. Give equal judgments for expats and Kuwaiti – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Whoever murders an innocent soul must be prosecuted, quickly handed the death penalty and promptly executed,” another commenter added.

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