Here at bazaar, we’ve long been avid proponents of the nonprofit organization Abolish Article 153. We’ve spoken to several of the organization’s founders in the past, all in an effort to shed light on issues that are not only relative to our state of Kuwait, but also to the entire region. Established by Alanoud AlSharekh, Amira Behbehani, Lulu Al-Sabah, Sheikha Al Nafisi and Sundus Hamza, the campaign aims at promoting non-violent culture and spreading awareness against all types of violence that have become increasingly observed in Kuwaiti society recently, especially violence against children and women.
Since the organization’s inception in 2015, the ampaign to Abolish Article 153 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code has accomplished so much in raising awareness, and the most recent recognition of this solely independent campaign by the European Union’s Chaillot Prize for Human Rights marks an international tribute to Kuwait’s vibrant civil society and its vital role in bringing about change.
The ceremony held at Dar Hamad last month featured a presentation of the prize by the EU Managing Director in the GCC Nicholas Westcott, the Ambassador of Malta (currently presiding over the European Union) Patrick Cole, the French, Belgian and German Ambassadors who have been strong supporters of the cause, the Ambassadors of Hungary, Spain, Austria, Greece and the Netherlands and a representative of the UK. The US ambassador to Kuwait Laurence Silverman, who is a great supporter of the campaign, also attended the event, along with representatives of the Kuwaiti civil society and those interested in human rights issues.
In the three years since the establishment of the campaign, and through cooperating with volunteer committees and other public benefit organizations, the campaign’s programs have been trying to consolidate and develop Kuwaiti society culturally and morally to reduce violence and to promote peaceful coexistence especially by enacting strict, firm and effective laws. Therefore, the campaign works with the legislators of the State to give birth to legislations that protect against domestic violence and to amend and abolish others in order to safeguard the dignity of all; every resident and citizen.
One of the fundamental criteria for the advancement of nations is the preservation of the dignity of individuals and the preservation of freedoms and rights. The campaign to abolish Article 153 includes studies, lectures and training programs to empower the public and raise awareness about the violation of women’s rights in some laws. Kuwaiti women have proved their worth in various fields, and their protection and equality is a guaranteed right within the articles of the Constitution of the State of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Penal Code aims at promoting non-violent culture and spreading awareness against all types of violence that have become increasingly observed in Kuwaiti society, especially violence against children and women.
If you’re still unaware of what Article 153 proposes, Alanoud AlSharekh previously told bazaar that “it justifies murdering female kin and it’s a strange justification. It’s not Sharia compliant, it’s in violation of our constitution and every human rights treaty signed by Kuwait. We’re better than this, as a people and as a country.” For local renowned artist Amira Behbehani, joining the organization and campaign arrived as a natural decision, “I really believed in the cause and I blindly said yes to joining, even though I need to be trained in the laws to be capable to answer any questions about it.” Through the artist’s network, she works side by side with the Abolish Article 153 team to organize awareness and fund raising events. For Sheikha Al Nafisi, she illustrates the campaign’s ethos with these concise words, “We are the voices of women in need, and those who have sadly departed.”
While there are specific rules and laws to follow, Article 153 has omitted them and is inherently flawed because it is easily abused. with the establishment of a child protection laws after a ten-year of struggle along with a string of awards recognizing the organization’s exceptional campaigning abilities, Abolish Article 153 hopes to convince people that the next step would be to enact a law that would protect women. The team has utilized Kuwait’s vibrant creative scene to spread their ethos and mission, and this is clearly communicated through various art exhibitions. Most recently, an art exhibition representing women was held at Kuwait’s ‘The Hub’ creative space, showcasing the works of various artists to encourage women to obtain their full rights, and to also mark a clear sign of support from the community for the Abolish Article 153 campaign.
Now that they’ve gotten the word out, everyone is very aware of this article and all the similar legislations. Abolish Article 153 has paved the way for change and for giving Kuwait what it needs to be great, and this most recent award from the EU Chaillot Prize for Human Rights in the GCC arrives as yet another remarkable stepping stone toward inciting change.