Kuwait Women Speak Against Sex Harassment

Published August 13th, 2022 - 06:23 GMT
No to harassment
No to sexual harassment (Shutterstock)

Several campaigns have been launched by women in Kuwait to defend female victims and expose the men who harassed them. Women are now more open to sharing their experiences and testimonies about sexual harassment, but is it the same for all generations? Kuwait Times spoke with people from Generations X and Z and Millennials to learn more.

“Despite the efforts of the ministry of interior to maintain security in the country, there are some violations that are difficult for them to track, which are monitored by citizens and residents. Every woman has gone through sexual harassment in one way or another. We hope MoI launches an app to report such incidents that allow citizens or residents to send a report by uploading photos, video or audio recording of these violations,” said 26-year-old Alia Hassan.

Nada Nasser, 31, was a victim of an attempted rape by an Asian in front of her house. She told Kuwait Times she still experiences emotional and psychological reactions from the incident, which happened seven years ago. “The incident affected me negatively and I have a phobia of dealing with Asians now. I don’t go out late or walk the streets alone. I had anxiety for years. I didn’t feel anyone would believe me or take me seriously if I reported him,” she said.

“People did not believe I was a victim. I had pangs of guilt that I didn’t react well. I was ashamed of seeing neighbors who came and helped me after the rapist escaped. I saw accusation in their eyes — they blamed me for coming home late, although it was only 9 pm,” she added.

Her parents’ reactions were confusing but understandable for her; for being afraid of the unknown and reacting as the old generation reacted, which is what parents do. “My mother ignored the incident and avoided talking about the subject. She dealt with me the next day like nothing happened, although I needed mental support, unlike my father who tried a lot to find the perpetrator. He even offered money to several people to find him, but there was no response. My father still worries about me and my sisters and tries to protect us,” Nasser said.

“My father did not report the incident because he was afraid to harm me. We learned later the man was a part of a gang in the area. My father was afraid if we reported him, he would come for me later. But he advised me to hit him and report him to the police in case he comes back again,” she said.

Born in the digital age, younger generations seem to be more aware and responsible and know how to react in case of sexual abuse. Hatan Ali, 16, told Kuwait Times she has been harassed several times, but her mother did not report the matter to safeguard her reputation. “As for my generation, we talk about it on social media to expose the perpetrators to avoid the same thing happening to others. Social media is a powerful tool if we know how to use it. Silence is not the answer,” she told Kuwait Times.

As for Aziza Ali, 63, execution or whipping in a public square is the best way to make the perpetrators an example for the public. “Parents should not tolerate sexual assaults. If their daughter was raped, eventually, things will be out in public, even if they hide it well. Why should we care about society and how people will shame my daughter, and risk the possibility of letting the guilty person remain on the streets to do the same to other girls,” she reasoned.

Um Abdullah, 55, urged parents to educate their children to be aware and be honest with them. “We have to report the harassers — they have to be punished. If you know the identity of the rapist, you have to report him,” she said. “We will teach our daughter how to react in the future. I do not care about the society — I know how I raised my daughter. People have to report the perpetrators to preserve the lives of these young women. Even boys and children are sexually harassed, so we should not leave them alone. Even if they are grown up, we have to follow their daily lives,” she pointed out. She called on the media to stop publishing the details of how girls are raped, because future rapists may apply the same methods on others.

For Mariam Al-Sandan, 46, harassment causes severe damage to people, as she herself was sexually abused as a child. “Both the legislative and executive authorities must not tolerate the lack of application of punishment. Officials must protect women’s rights in a correct manner that secures them an ideal life.”

Sandan avoided being in relationships for a while, but after she finally got married, she is now educating her children to report and fight back, and not care what society will say about them. “My mother ashamed me when I was sexually abused by our supermarket owner. As a child, I did not know what he was doing and when I asked, she blamed me for it. I still have nightmares because of her reaction; I lived in fear for years. I felt fear, confusion and sometimes anger,” she recalled.

Under Kuwaiti law, according to articles 191 and 192, a harasser is liable to imprisonment for up to 15 years if the victim is related to the harasser or was being brought up by them (such as an uncle, aunt, domestic worker, teacher, etc). If the victim is under the legal age, of unstable mind and unable to know about the nature of the act, then the harasser will be punished with life imprisonment.

Faten Omar wrote this report for the Kuwait Times

This article is reprinted from its original source

All rights reserved. © Kuwait Times Newspaper 2022

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