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Kuwaiti women can now become judges

16 of the 32 people who applied for the position of judges were young women

Gulf News

Manama: A major step towards empowering Kuwaiti women to become judges has been made after the justice ministry accepted applications from women for the position of prosecutors.

Reports in the Kuwaiti capital said that 16 of the 32 people who applied for the position were young women who had graduated from law schools. Applicants have one month to hand in their papers and the number of women applying is expected to increase.

The position enables its holder to become a judge and up to Sunday, only men were allowed to become prosecutors in the country.

Women’s progress towards the position has not been easy amid strong opposition from several official and civil sides that claimed that the move could be religiously endorsed.

However, several women applicants said that they would always recall the day they handed in their papers as “a historic breakthrough.”

“This is a beautiful day in my life,” an applicant who did not give her name, told local Arabic daily Al Qabas. “This is great because in the past women studied law for four years at the university and after they graduated they were employed in other specialities. Their highest ambition was to become lawyers,” she said.

Another applicant said that she was shocked by the opposition at allowing women to become judges.

“There are claims that we should not be allowed to become judges,” she said. “They are baseless and we are grateful that we have finally obtained our rights. The young women before us were deprived of such rights and that was not fair. Now, there is a new beginning. The position require specific criteria and we are confident that only those who meet them will be selected,” she said.

Although the constitution gives Kuwait women political, social and economic rights, they face an uphill struggle to break through conservative moulds.

Women were able to enter parliament only in 2009 after winning four of the 50 seats in the parliamentary elections.

Last year, the women lost their seats in the February elections, but regained three in December in the latest legislative polls held after the previous parliament was dissolved.

Two women have portfolios in the cabinet formed after the elections.

Dhikra Al Rashidi, one of the three women who won seats in the December 1 elections, is minister of social affairs and labour, and Rola Dashti is minister of development and parliament affairs.