Kuwait- A decision issued by a Kuwaiti court depriving a woman from the custody of her children after being accused of smoking shisha outside her home, has turned the focus of the country’s public opinion away from the election season.
Measures including raising power and water charges and hiking petrol prices have triggered a crisis, leading to the parliament being dissolved last month and snap polls being called for November 26.
The Kuwaiti Family Court issued a decision considering the behavior of a mother who smoked shisha as “odious” and as socially inappropriate. Therefore, it said there is enough legal ground to end the custody of the mother amid concerns that her children would not be raised safely.
The court’s decision sparked several reactions across Kuwait, a country ranking first worldwide based on the percentage of smokers measured to its population. The majority of smokers are men.
However, a legal expert said that the decision was an “appeal that the judge was restudying,” and therefore, it is not necessary that the judge had based his ruling by applying the meaning of “odious behavior” on the smoking act in itself.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Kuwaiti lawyer Fahd al-Bassam said that if the decision is supported by the Appeal or the Cassation courts, then their ruling could be used in other cases as a reference for accusing mothers or both parents of smoking and therefore, make them lose the custody of their children.
Kuwaiti activists warned on Thursday that the court decision could become a precedent to other cases to destroy the principle of gender equality among citizens because it found a woman and not a man guilty of smoking.
Among Gulf countries, Kuwait holds the highest percentage of smokers. Shisha is served at a large number of restaurants and cafes, visited equally by both men and women.
In March 2015, Kuwait issued a law whereby a Family Court would be established in every governorate in order to resolve conflicts within a family.