Several protestors gathered at Kuwait’s Erada Square
Several protestors gathered at Kuwait’s Erada Square Image Credit: Yasmena Al-Mulla

Kuwait City: Several protestors gathered at Kuwait’s Erada Square, in front of the National Assembly (parliament), two days after a Kuwaiti woman, Farah Akbar, was stabbed to death by a man that was released on bail after two cases were filed against him for kidnapping and attempted murder.

Akbar was killed on Tuesday after the perpetrator, Fahad Subhi Mohammed, crashed into her car, kidnapped her and her daughters (who were in the car with her) and stabbed Akbar in front of her daughter in the chest. He then drove her body to the hospital and fled.

Mohammed had been stalking Akbar for a while, but had no connection to her, Abdulmohsen Al Qattan, the victim's lawyer clarified.

Akbar’s death sparked outrage across Kuwait as many questioned how the killer was released on bail despite proving he was a serious threat to her life.

If we don’t talk who will?

After Twitter hashtags were trending for hours demanding justice and equality, several protesters took to the streets to stand in solidarity with the victim and make their voices heard.

“If we didn’t talk, the women of Kuwait about her and defended her, who would defend us if something happened to us?” Arwa Al Wugayan, a Kuwaiti activist, told Gulf News.

Dressed in black and holding signs that read ‘blood on your hands’, ‘end gender-based violence’ and ‘do we have to die in front of you for you to hear us’, many people were mourning the death of Akbar and demanding that no more women die as a result of violence.

One of the protestors, Soha, explained that she attended the protest to “show solidarity with the victim of a very horrible crime. But we are also here to express that we need to put an end to violence against women.”

A couple of MPs showed up to the protest, “to not only pay respect to the deceased, but this is a funeral for all of Kuwait,” MP Abdullah Al Mudhaf told Gulf News.

Not taken seriously

A few hours after the killing, Dana Akbar, the victim’s sister, shared a video on social media explaining that she filed two cases against the perpetrator on two separate occasions, and both times he was released on bail. She added that she warned the prosecutor multiple times that the man is a serious threat to her family.

Kuwait’s family protection law, which was passed by parliament in August 2020, stipulates that the state must take measures to protect victims of domestic violence. While the law is in place, many feel that it is not honored or upheld by law enforcement.

Al Mudhaf explained that they [members of parliament] have created a committee to investigate the matter to understand the faults that occurred in handling the case and uncover those that did not uphold their duty so that they can be punished.

Fatma Korouz Al Ajmi, one of the women at the protest, stated, “we demand that the complaints filed by the women that experience violence should be taken more seriously.”

Repeated pattern

While the protest was organised shortly after Akbar’s death, many protesters held signs with the names of previous women that were killed at the hands of violence.

“This keeps happening because there is no punishment. The perpetrator after two, ten years is released or he pretends that he is mentally ill. When never heard about a man that killed and was punished,” Al Wugayan explained.

In the past few years, several women have been killed by their male family members, who were either acquitted or released after a few years.

The issue of gender-based violence is widespread in Kuwait, but demands to address the issue have increased in recent months after a large anti-harassment movement went viral.