Kuwait Law: Sexual Harassment

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

no

Girls, have you ever felt uncomfortable walking down the streets in Kuwait? Ladies, have you ever heard unpleasant comments at a traffic light? Women, have you ever received a shocking sexual image via email from a co-worker by “mistake”?

These are all common incidents that happen in Kuwait to women of all ages and backgrounds, from men (or sometimes women) of all ages and backgrounds. I know this, as I am a female! Please I beg you, please stop the “Dear Mr Fajer” emails, “Dear Fajer” is fine. These incidents can come in many shapes, sounds and forms as well. I have had a few cases recently on this very topic and therefore wanted to clarify the law to my readers and the options they can take.

Please note that this article is not about “rape” or “statutory rape”, I have written about sexual crimes in a previous post [Here]

This post is about sexual harassment.

Article 191 of the Kuwait Penal Code states:
– Any person that sexually harasses another through hate, threatening or deceiving shall be punished with up to 15 years of imprisonment
– If the victim is related to the harasser, or is under his/her upbringing (example uncle, aunt, teacher, domestic worker so on) then he/she shall be punished with life imprisonment
– If the victim is under the legal age, not mentally stable, unable to know the nature of the act, then the harasser shall be punished with life imprisonment

Article 192 of Kuwait Penal Code states:
– Any person that sexually harasses another without hate, threatening or deceiving shall be punished up to 10 years of imprisonment
– If the victim is related to the harasser, or is under his/her upbringing (example uncle, aunt, teacher, domestic worker so on) then he/she shall be punished up to 15 years of imprisonment

What do you do if you are in this situation?
– If you are not 21 years of age, please speak to an adult you trust, this doesn’t have to be a family member, it can be a teacher, a friend’s mother or anyone else that you trust (you can also email me, I promise everything will be kept confidential).
– If you are an adult, please email me or go to the nearest police station.

Please note that this does not apply to online harassment, there are other departments in Kuwait that can find the person online and assist you, and they are very professional and no one will judge you. I will be discussing this in more depth in a separate post next week.

Before I end this post I would like to request your help. I recently received a few reports about a man on the loose in Salmiya that is sexually harassing minors. If you have any information on incidents of this nature in the Salmiya area, and you are willing to share, please email me urgently as this might help us put this man away and save other children.

Thank you.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: The Cannabis Post

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

joint

From a legal stand point, cannabis and its legalities is very interesting to look at. The decisions towards cannabis seem to be changing rapidly in the west, now whether it should or shouldn’t be legal (I will leave that for the internet people to argue) I am just going to discuss the legalities of cannabis here in Kuwait.

Kuwait has very strict laws when it comes to drug abuse, but what does it say in regards to “smoking up?”

Kuwait’s Penal Law which speaks about crimes in general (and btw has been there since 1960!) states the following:

Article 208:
– Penalized for a period not exceeding 2 years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding KD2,000 for personal use (in a private place)

Article 207
– Penalized for a period not exceeding 7 years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding KD7,000 for drug dealing, or made it easier for another person to use drugs

This means that even if a person does not smoke up but facilitates for another person an environment to smoke up, they can get more years in jail. Let me re-explain this, if I let Mark smoke up in my living room but I don’t smoke up, I can get more years!

There are a lot of other things that come into account when the court looks at weed cases, there are also more detailed charts of each drug and its consequences, so please stay legal people.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

Photo by Prensa 420


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Kuwait Law: Domestic Workers Rights

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

domestic

There’s an estimated 600,000 domestic workers in Kuwait and it’s no secret locally and internationally on how some domestic workers are being treated like slaves in Kuwait (and in the region). I don’t know if the majority of house help in Kuwait have access to internet, but I get a fair amount of emails asking for urgent help. From being kicked to being burnt to working 20 hours a day with no medical access and obviously they’re held as prisoners. In some ways it is modern day slavery.

What makes it worse is that there are no concrete laws designed to protect domestic workers in Kuwait. Domestic workers do not fall under Kuwait Labor Law for the private sector, I don’t want to get into the legality of it as it is complicated and really not useful. Do we really need laws to act human? (I don’t know, maybe the philosopher Kant was right)

I am going to write it out, even though it should be common sense

1) 8 hours a day, within reasonable timings. They are humans, they require rest.
2) No physical abuse! No emotional abuse! If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
3) Give them their passports, you cannot legally keep them.
4) Give them a day or maybe two a week off. Yes off, and off means they can leave the house if they want to. If they want to go to the movies at Cinemagic then they can.
5) They aren’t slaves, don’t lock them in.
6) They aren’t your 14 year old daughters, if they want to date guess what? They can.
7) Give them reasonable pay. 50KD a month is not reasonable, just cause its reasonable in India (where they might be from) it is not reasonable here. They work and live here.

I am sure there are much more things you can do to make their lives better, if you live in a house and your house help are being abused feel free to email me. (I won’t tell your mum, strictly confidential). If you are a domestic worker, also, feel free to email me as well ask@fajerthelawyer.com.

I am also happy to announce that I am working with the Social Work Society of Kuwait. The society does advocacy work and provides social and legal services for the vulnerable population in Kuwait. Currently most of its efforts are focused in providing advocacy and protection for migrant workers. Kindly note, that your emails will be confidential but will be forwarded to them, so I will not be the only person handling your case.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

Photo from GulfNews


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Kuwait Law: Christmas

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

christmaskuwait

This postcard picture is from the 1960s. Kids celebrating Christmas with Santa Claus near Al Jahra gate and Ministry of Finance in Fahad Alsalem Street. – via @abdullahalkhonaini

A few weeks back I got tagged in an Instagram account of a mother that was hand making Christmas ornaments. The post stated the following: “All Christmas related orders will not be accepted as my family and I are being threatened.” Turns out the mother was getting threats by an Islamic fundamentalist.

This reminded my of an incident I had to personally deal with when it came to q8books. Last year we publicized a “Spooky Book Night” writing competition during Halloween. The purpose of the competition was to get young adults to be creative and express themselves and although a good amount of school students took part and enjoyed it, I started getting threats by email, non-stop. They claimed that they will not support the bookstore anymore and that celebrating a western day is illegal according to commercial law. Funnily enough they didn’t know I was a commercial lawyer at the time and I had never heard of any such laws. So I respectively answered back asking them to highlight laws in question and also giving each one of them a free voucher for books (I honestly thought those people needed to be educated more).

Anyways what I am trying to say is that these people are intolerant and have no legal basis. Kuwait is a civil country and there is no commercial law that makes celebrating Christmas illegal. Also the Kuwaiti constitution clearly states that we all have freedom of belief so its such a shame that I have to write about such issues. I honestly do not understand how celebrating other religions is an offense to Islam. Just keep in mind people of different religions come to Kuwait and give back to our community, they leave their families and its not easy for them. They deserve to celebrate their believes. Be kind, be tolerant, respect others and don’t just repeat what other people are saying without taking a minute to think about it yourself. I sincerely apologize that I have been preaching of late, Merry Christmas to my Christian brothers and sisters and happy new year to all of you.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: Contractors

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

uscontractors

I decided to be a lawyer because I strongly believe that if more people have their rights and get justice, kuwait would be a better place. Even though I am not really helping much, I am still humble and grateful that I get a chance to post here and create some sort of awareness (thank you kindly Mark). I know my topics might be negative lately, but remember I get inspired to write by the cases I have and the emails I receive.

Some of the companies out there are MONSTERS (not the cute ones like monster inc but more like I don’t know I am not really into sci-fi) but seriously some companies are evil.

I have noticed in the past few years an increase in cases dealing with contractors. Contractors are brought to Kuwait from their home country and put to work doing various jobs for companies or entities that are from their home country. These contractors are told that because they work for their countries Army or Navy or whatever, then Kuwaiti Labor Law doesn’t apply to them but their countries law does. NOT TRUE YOU EVIL ******!

If you are working as a contractor for I don’t care who in Kuwait, it doesn’t matter if it’s for the King of Utopia or Queen Elizabeth. If you have a working permit and you are registered under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour then Kuwait Labour Law applies to you. So what does that mean?
You get paid overtime! I have noticed that some contractors have signed a contract that says they are willing to work 12 hours a day. Fortunately though, the law clearly states that the employee can not agree on something different than what the law states unless it’s beneficial for the employee (contractor). The law states maximum 8 hours, so unless you think working 12 hours a day without overtime is beneficial for you, you can ask for compensation for all your hard work. Also:

– The law also requires the sponsors to open a Kuwaiti bank account for contractors and transfer the contractors salary to the bank account. These sneaky companies pay the contractors in their bank accounts back home and deposit small amounts of money in a Kuwaiti bank account, making the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor believe that the contractor’s salary is a lot less than what they really make. Since compensation is based on salary, these contractors won’t be getting compensated fairly.

– Termination indemnity, yes you heard it right, contractors deserve termination indemnity in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law.

– Days off in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law.

– All other rights in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law (please read my labor law post for more information).

If you are a contractor and you are being mistreated and you want your rights, please let me know ask@fajerthelawyer (or any other legal questions). I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: We are all equal

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

rainbow

The fact I have to write this post is a disgrace! It’s embarrassing that as a lawyer I have to be preaching about essential human behavior instead of doing plain old legal work. People need to be more tolerant towards each other in Kuwait. I have hope that this attitude will change.

I always knew that being a lawyer wouldn’t be easy, the job requires you most of the time to deal with negative explosives. You know what they say, when the tough gets going, the tough gets a lawyer. I wasn’t expecting people to come to me with celebrations but everyday emails and emails flow into my inbox (and sometimes into my junk folder, I apologize) filled with words describing emotions, most of which is anger. Why? One word; inequality.

The Kuwaiti Constitution clearly states in Article 29 that we are all EQUAL
Article 29 [Equality, Human Dignity, Personal Liberty]
(1) All people are equal63 in human dignity and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction to race, origin, language, or religion.
(2) Personal liberty is guaranteed.

None of us, none of you, no matter how rich or poor, fat or thin, tall or short, smart or dumb, want to be treated unfairly. Yet, in the emails, the employer isn’t respecting his employee, the parent isn’t tolerant of his gay child, house help are being tortured and turned into slaves, religious debates are nothing but aggressive personal attacks and expats are being told to f*** off.

Recently though I got an email from a homosexual young man. The way he is being treated by his environment is not acceptable so I decided to write about it in this post, not just for intolerant people in general in the hopes they will be more tolerant, but for all the homosexuals in Kuwait to understand that it is their choice.

Being homosexual is not illegal. Your thoughts are yours, no one can punish you for your identity. Who you prefer to be with is up to you. Now some acts, might be illegal, please check my two previous posts:

Kuwait Law: Sexual Crimes
Kuwait Law: Indecent Acts

And please before you go on to “accuse” me of being gay myself, if I was I would let you know, but I am into straight non-blonde tall men, from western (in it’s broad meaning) or/and south East Asian descent, preferably with a good sense of humor and an Irish accent! And yes I am a female (so please, I beg you please, stop emailing me with Dear Mr. Fajer)

Just remember, if it wasn’t for your employees your company wouldn’t function, if it wasn’t for your house help you wouldn’t have a clean home and a hot meal. Just remember, your son did not chose to be gay. Your religion doesn’t make you a good or bad person, your actions do and all religions are lovely in one way or another.

So be tolerant and be patient with each other, for your sake and for your communities’ sake. You never know when you will be sick and you will need that Jewish doctor, you will get into legal trouble and need that homosexual lawyer, or your child will need that atheist teacher.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: Labour Law Issues

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

contract

I have noticed in the past few weeks, two issues with employees that kept repeating themselves! So in order for this to be beneficial to others dealing with the similar situation I decided to post about them.

1) I submitted my resignation and it was accepted verbally, I was also told that I do not need to attend work for the rest of my notice period, therefore I didn’t. Now there is a case against me for absconding from work, what do I do?

First is first guys!
-Any communication with your company should be in writing. Even if you trust them they should understand why you would require it in writing.

– If you are emailing something to your company and you think you might need that email in the future to prove something (example your resignation letter or your acceptance to resign) and you are using a work email, email it to yourself. BCC your private email always with your personal matters, you never know when all your work emails will get deleted.

– If you attend a meeting and you end up discussing everything verbally, you can send the attendees an email after the meeting to have things documented. Name your email “Minutes of meeting” and write in it a recap of the meeting and what the attendees agreed on.

So those are the precautions but what do you when there is a case against you?
Get a lawyer! You need to at this point.

FYI: Your holiday can’t be deducted from your notice period, because they told you not to show up.

2) My company isn’t doing well, so I was laid off. They said they can’t give me my termination indemnity because they don’t have it. Do they have the right to withhold my indemnity because of bankruptcy?

No. I repeat NO. They are broke? Still the answer is no. They are going to court? Still the answer is no They are going up in flames because of a giant dragon? NO. You have the right to get your termination indemnity.

Got it? Ok? OKAY? Yeah? Good.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Censorship of books in Kuwait

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

books

One of my favorite things to do while growing up in Kuwait was going to the Kuwait International Book Fair. I loved walking through the aisles and aisles of mostly Arabic and some English books while having ice-cream. Since this year’s book fair is opening its doors today (Wednesday the 19th), I thought it would be fit to write about books in Kuwait.

Kuwait was the first Gulf country to hold a book fair with the first being held back in 1975. It was a platform for readers, writers, bookstore owners and publishers to connect with each other directly. Whats sad is that although other Gulf countries only recently started holding book fairs, they have already surpassed Kuwait’s book fairs with their activities and list of international writers and affiliates.

Yes people do read here even though the attention span of an average human being is probably 3 minutes thanks to social media but I am still a strong believer that anyone can get into a book if they chose a book based on their interest. With all of that said, censorship is an issue, its my issue, its your issue, its our issue! Working at q8bookstore with publishers, schools and writers has brought up the subject quite a bit, and although there may be some grounds on why censoring certain books is necessary when it comes to children, the books censored in Kuwait have often if not always not made sense in my humble opinion (I am trying to be diplomatic). Historical atlases of Kuwait and books with hocus pocus and three little pigs for example make it to the list of banned books in schools! Some of Orhan Pamuk, Haruki Murakami and motion picture books (which btw get played in the theaters) also are examples that make it to the list of banned books in bookstores!

Don’t we as citizens have freedom of speech? Shouldn’t we be able read and write what we want? The Kuwaiti constitution mentions in article 36 and 37 the freedom of research, right to publish, conduct research and so on (wont bore you here with tough legal words, that lawyers invented). But seriously who decides whats to be censored and how is it done legally? Well a lot of the information is not available to the general public but with dedicated work, Sout Al Kuwait; a non-profit organization that aims to protect personal freedoms and other constitutional rights have published a booklet on censorship in Kuwait. Here are some interesting points:

– For a local book to be sold in Kuwait it has to go through the Ministry of Information, if there is some doubt on the content of the book, it is transferred to a committee. The committee is supposed to meet once a week but according to Sout Alkuwait when they visited them in April of 2010, they had not met for 3 months and had 120 books pending (surprise, surprise)

– In the 2009 International Book Fair, 25% of the banned books were fiction (get ready for the sad part), 11% poetry and 10% scientific journals

– 24 social organization have signed a petition to review censorship in Kuwait, hopefully this time with avail

Although Mark and I will give you the freedom of speech to post as you wish under here (maybe we can have a religious debate, or lets talk about how mark isn’t Kuwaiti?), either way, I would love to hear about your thoughts and stories on censorship in Kuwait.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: How can I get a release from my company?

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Hello everyone, although I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been reading your questions and emails. Over and over there is one question that is constantly being asked so I have decided to post the answer here, so you can all benefit.

“How can I get a release from my company?”

This question is not as simple as it seems, the answer depends on a few things (I am assuming you work in the private sector and Kuwait Labor Law 6/2010 applies to you):
1) If you have passed the 100 day probation period or not
2) The type of contract you have (specified or not specified)
3) Whether your employer was providing you with your rights as per Kuwait Labor Law

So therefore I tried to simplify the answer in a flow chart below:

chart

I really don’t like how some employers are keeping foreigners here against their will by using a specified contract, putting travel bans against them and doing other manipulative things. This isn’t a perception I have but stories I keep hearing EVERY SINGLE DAY! So my advice to you is, if you want to leave and they won’t let you go, email your boss with all the things they are doing that are against the law or your contract, for example withholding your passport, not paying you on time, not paying you over time, working more than 8 hours a day and so on (Read your rights here)

Also I would like to take some cases pro-bono with a help of lawyer friends, so please email you if you feel your employer is not being rightful!

As for company’s please read this link that has employee rights, you have no excuse to treat foreigners this way.

If you have any further questions please write them below, I will try to answer you here.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: Obtaining a commercial licence online

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Local newspapers today are reporting that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries is working on providing a service for locals to apply/obtain commercial permits online. The Municipality, Fire Departments and Civil Services will all be connected online. It should be up and running early next year and it will take a lot less time and a lot less paper work to get things done. It’s a system that’s already in place in neighboring countries like UAE and Qatar. [Source]

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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