Domestic violence is a very emotional and difficult topic to address. However, if you are a victim of domestic violence it is essential to know what your options are, both legally and practically, in Kuwait. These are not as extensive as they would be in the United States, but that does not mean that victims of domestic violence are entirely without redress. Below is information about domestic abuse gathered from meetings with police, lawyers, judges of Family Court, and American women living in Kuwait. We hope you find it useful.
In Kuwaiti culture, problems of spousal abuse are often dealt with within the family, which is the core institution of the society. Kuwaiti families often consider it an embarrassment if they cannot successfully address such problems without outside involvement. These attitudes are reflected in Kuwaiti law, which considers an assault against another person to be a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, unless a weapon was used. Cultural factors may place pressure on the abused spouse not to seek legal protection or even medical treatment. However, if you are the victim of spousal abuse and wish to be protected, you must file a complaint with the police and any injury, of course, should receive prompt medical attention.
Documentation of the abuse is critical when filing a complaint with the police. Hospitals and clinics can provide a report documenting injuries sustained and treatment received that can be submitted with your complaint. English-speaking medical personnel are generally available in all medical facilities. However, many police officers do not speak English. If at all possible, when filing the complaint bring with you a friend or family member who speaks fluent Arabic. In response to a complaint, the police typically will ask the abusive spouse to report to the police station to discuss the complaint and sign a statement of intended future good conduct.
Be aware that Kuwait does not have any type of shelter or home for victims of spousal or other domestic abuse; abused spouses are expected to return home based upon the abusive spouse’s pledge of future good conduct or make private arrangements for shelter with family or friends if they are not comfortable returning home.
Documentation of abuse, preferably via a complaint made to the police, is critical if the abused spouse intends to seek divorce.