An uproar among Kuwaitis is rising after an image went viral of a banner requiring women who want to visit a gynecologist in public hospitals to have their marriage contracts with them.
It is believed to have its roots in a social culture that prevented women from seeking medical help from a gynecologist especially if they are not married in spite of any suffering they may have.
The photo image first shared by Arwa Al Wagayan, a journalist, writer, and social activist who directly addressed the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health speaking against the laws that prevent older and young non-married women from visiting doctors due to outdated social norms.
هذا المنشور موجود في مركز الصقر في العديلية، ما فائدة طب النساء الحكومي إن كان يشترط عقد الزواج؟ هذا مستشفى و لا فندق من الفنادق التي تُمارس الوصاية على النساء، و هل ممنوع على العزباء أن تحصل على الرعاية الصحية الكاملة؟ @KUWAIT_MOH pic.twitter.com/bwS8OAxW8w— أروى الوقيان?? (@roooowy) September 8, 2019
Translation: "This was seen in the Sager Health Center in Adailiya. This is a hospital and not a hotel that pushes its guardianship laws against women. Since when is it forbidden for non-married women to receive full health care?”
The post circulated the internet and went viral shortly after, prompting a conversation on societal norms that often prevents women from speaking up about their health problems amidst fears of family or society's negative reactions.
يقصدون ان اذا كانت بنت وتعاني من مرض جنسي يعني اهي ساقطة و وسخة وما تستحق العلاج!— Ghaliah غالية (@Its_me_Ghaliah) September 8, 2019
Translation: “They claim if the woman is not married and suffers from any sexual disease, it means she is a slut and does not deserve treatment!”.
Some have accused the Ministry of Health of discrimination against women and enforcing male guardianship laws against non-married women.
Meanwhile, and up till now there is no official response or comment from the ministry over this.
A thread on an administrative process of Kuwait's MOH which discriminates against women; the requirement of a marriage contract before processing gynecological samples.This echoes anger around the requirement of a male guardian's signature before surgical proceedings for females. https://t.co/ANevXG4rlI— Alanoud Alsharekh (@AAlsharekh) September 10, 2019
Many have told of their traumatic experiences when attempting to visit gynecologists without being married.
أذكر مرّة حولتني دكتورتي عندهم عشان شوية فحوصات ، ما خلّوني أدش على دكتورة إلا لما أمي يت لأني مو متزوجة!— z (@xrzha_) September 8, 2019
Translation: “I remember once my doctor referred me to the hospital and they did not allow me to see the gynecologist until my mother came because I am not married.”
في طبيبة بهالمركز نصحتني وقالت لي: أول خطوة قي العلاج هي بالالتزام بالدين الإسلامي ولازم "تتحجبين" هو مستشفى وفندق ودار للدعوة ?— Ms. Ghadeer E teacher⚖️????? (@EL_GHEDRISH) September 8, 2019
Translation: “One doctor at this hospital advised me to be more committed to religion and “wear hijab” as the first step of treatment. Is this a hospital, or an Islamic Center for preaching!”
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