Shoppers in a shopping complex in Salmiya, Kuwait, were shocked when police arrived to arrest three young women who were found to be naked under their abayas. According to police sources quoted in the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai, two of the women were from Gulf countries, whilst the third was a Kuwaiti; one was a minor. The women were in a cafe in a popular shopping complex in Salmiya on January 22 when the women’s indiscretion was discovered by a small boy, who told his mother he had seen one of the women naked underneath her abaya. The abaya is a long flowing opaque cloak, traditionally black, worn over clothing in public by women. The newspaper added that the women told police that they had spent the previous night in an apartment having sex and under the influence of alcohol, and had come to the cafe the following morning. According to al-Rai when police confronted the women one of them refused to leave and exposed herself to other diners in the cafe.
Police sought to contact the father of the two GCC nationals but he told them he could not go to Kuwait because “I am too busy with my business”. It is not known what charges will be brought against the women, but a Kuwaiti women’s rights activist, Marwa Tarek, told the Egyptian newspaper Bikya Masr on Tuesday that their punishment could be harsh if they are accused of being homosexual. “The crime and penalty for being gay is not a nice one here and they could be facing years in prison if the accusations they had consensual sex are proven true,” she said.