In a historic move, eight Kuwaiti women have been approved to become judges, but not everyone is welcoming the move. Kuwait’s Attorney General, Dirar Al Asousi, approved the promotion last week of Fatima Al-Sagheer, Fatima Al-Kandari, Sanabel Al-Houti, Fatima Al-Farhan, Bashair Shah, Bashaer Al-Rakdan, Rawaat Al-Tabtabae, and Lulwa Al-Ghanim, from prosecutors to judges, pending final approval from the Supreme Judicial Council.
Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Ali Al Ghanem said “the rise of Kuwaiti women to the judiciary platform is a long-awaited entitlement, and a step forward in the march of Kuwaiti women.”
Activists have also welcomed the move as a long-awaited win after years of lobbying. “When we look at Arab countries, we find that female judges have played an overwhelmingly positive, crucial role in advancing the judiciary,” Kuwaiti lawyer and rights activist Athraa Al Refaie told Al Qabas, pointing to origins of this most recent progressive push in 2014, when 20 female prosecutors were appointed. “Kuwaiti women have been on an unwavering path to take part in the judiciary, after reaching both the legislative as a parliamentary member, and the executive as a minister. We’ve been waiting for this decision a long time.”
The country’s most conservative hardliners are outraged, however, strongly opposing the appointment on religious grounds. Mohammad Haif, Secretary General of the Thawabit Al Umma Salafi bloc, denounced the move and said the judiciary is a general mandate that only men can assume. He took to twitter writing that the appointment of women in the judiciary “is not commensurate with the composition or nature of women, nor is it compatible with the true Sharia.”
Calling on the Supreme Judicial Council to block the appointment, due to go into effect in September, Haif added that “appointing women as judges would be against the law and contradicts the nature of women, and would open the door to appeal against the rulings issued by female judges, and litigants may demand they be disqualified, which would disrupt the judicial system and embarrass the Judicial Council.”
Main image courtesy of the UN country office in Kuwait.
Square image by Mohammad Sharaf with text: 'Historic Event: 8 Female Kuwaiti Judges'