Why Is a Kuwaiti Woman's Marriage to a Japanese Man Fueling Debate on Citizenship?

Published February 2nd, 2020 - 07:16 GMT
Why Is a Kuwaiti Woman's Marriage to a Japanese Man Fueling a Debate on Citizenship?
The question of citizenship has been an increasingly heated one in Kuwait. (Twitter)

A brief clip featuring a marriage ceremony of a Kuwaiti woman getting married to a Japanese man launched a social media debate on whether Kuwaiti women should ever be granted the right to pass their nationality to their kids when the father isn't a citizen.

Translation: Granted family blessings, a Japanese man married a Kuwaiti citizen."

In the video, a Kuwaiti Muslim sheikh greets the Japanese groom in English wishing him a lifetime of happiness, before he addresses the bride's father, asking for his blessing and the bride's consent.

As soon as the video went viral on Twitter, many social media users expressed their best wishes to the newlyweds, with several comments questioning whether the bride would ever want to grant the Kuwaiti citizenship to her future kids.

Translation: "The Japanese are classy and smart, I'm sure she agreed to marry him because she can see a bright future ahead. I wish them the best of luck."

Translation: "Good luck and have a happy life, but I hope she doesn't ask for the Kuwaiti citizenship for her kids in 5 or 10 years."

Translation: "Whoever marries a non-Kuwaiti should just move with her kids to the husband's country. Don't ask for citizenship to your kids, we already have enough issues."

The Kuwaiti citizenship being granted to kids whose father isn't a Kuwaiti citizen has been a controversial topic in the Gulf state for the last few years, as it's still not granted as per Kuwaiti laws.

Unlike Kuwaiti children of Kuwaiti men married to women from other nationalities, Kuwait still doesn't grant its citizenship to children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis. 

Translation: "...and now she'll want to pass her citizenship to her kids instead of their father's."

Many civil and women's rights groups have been campaigning for years calling on lawmakers to amend citizenship laws to help female citizens have the same rights enjoyed by male citizens, arguing that the 29th article of the Kuwaiti constitution states that, "people are equal in human dignity and are equal in public rights and duties, without discrimination on grounds of race, origin, language or religion."

Translation: "We call on you [Kuwaiti prince and head of the state] to deliver justice to us and to grant us the same rights granted to male citizens in regard. We need to grant citizenship to our kids just as male citizens do, as per the 29th article of the constitution. Laws should be applied to everyone." 

Citizenship has been an increasingly heated conversation in Kuwait, especially as many activists are calling for reforms that grant citizenship to about 120k residents known as the 'Bidoon' population. Bidoon is an Arabic word for 'one without nationality' or 'stateless' and is a label for many local residents in several Gulf countries, who were born and raised in these countries without being given the official status granted to citizens.

Translation: "These are fake ideals. If he was a Bidoon they wouldn't have welcomed him."

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