I don't know what it is lately, but there has been an increased amount of discussions on social media of women being molested, harassed and stalked. Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait Blog discusses this subject today. I've seen a lot on Facebook also.
There are no laws against stalking in Kuwait. This applies to many Western countries around the world (South Africa, for example) where laws have not advanced to keep up with current problems in society. (Although there has been a recent social media law introduced in Kuwait that I am very happy about making the sending of indecent photos punishable by a jail sentence and 5,000 KD fine. So... baby steps....)
Even as far back as 10 years ago, having a guy follow you in his car to give you his number was one of the major forms of dating/meeting entertainment in Kuwait. Before, if the girl refused the advance, the guy would usually drive away. So by Western standards, this is a form of stalking, but in Kuwait it was either a mere annoyance or something young people did. (I'm guilty of this form of meet-up. I met several of my very good friends this way. One is a Minister. No joke.) It wasn't necessarily a bad thing to get the attention back in the day (especially if you were having a good hair day!) but now it has taken a scary turn. You're more like prey than a potential friend.
Stalking is now a serious issue without any law to prevent it. I have an acquaintance who was maliciously stalked for months in Kuwait. She knew who he was. He came into her business, so he obtained her phone number early on and "fell in love with her." She took photos. She went to the police department numerous times. She moved several times. The police couldn't do anything.
20 years in Kuwait has taught me a thing or two. I hate to go to police stations. But I might also hate it in the States - I dunno. I think I only had to go to one police station in the US in my life. Traffic accidents are handled roadside by the police in the States and then you follow up with your insurance companies. Here, you've got an entirely different system PLUS the language barrier to contend with. If it is a crime against a woman, they look at you funny (blame the victim?). It isn't a friendly ordeal and under most circumstances, there maybe little or no resolution.
Reporting/Filing a Complaint
Generally, (in Kuwait - which is what our story is about) if you want to file a complaint against some sick perv, the police will take a REPORT, not necessarily a CASE. To do this, you must go to the police station in the jurisdiction/area where the incident took place. If you call the police first (112) they will ask you to follow them to the police station where 1) they will tell the investigating officer what took place and 2) You will tell the investigating officer what happened and they will make a report. They don't use computers to file reports in Kuwait. Everything is hand-written, not even typed (and maybe from that you can understand why the court processes take so long in Kuwait!) A report will be filed and that's basically it unless more reports come in for the same person. And/or - depending on how bad the crime, it may turn into a case. If it does, you are looking at a very long process of hearings and court dates and your presence being requested for all as a witness.
In any event, you kind of ask yourself - so what is the point?
The point is: so it doesn't happen to another woman. So if the perv escalates or kidnaps/rapes someone, there will be logged evidence to build a solid case against him. If you are like me, you want to see justice done. You have been violated. The person who did it shouldn't get away with it.
But even if it reaches a case - the suspect may just claim mental instability and get away with it (or even continue). (Such was the case I heard of years ago when a known child molester entered a Westerner apartment complex in Salwa and attempted to molest a child at the pool. He was beaten pretty badly by the father of one of the children, but ultimately, sent back out on the street again because he had "psychological problems.")
Kuwait's laws have not caught up with the times. It's unfortunate, but true (and again - true in many other countries in the world). There are no "women's rights" advocates in Kuwait. No one you can contact (to my knowledge - and correct me if I'm wrong) to help you or give you legal advice - or even emotional support. If there is - it is going to be Arabic-speaking only, which eliminates women of 2/3 of the population.
Ok, back to my story. ANY woman ANYwhere should be vigilant of her surroundings. You should always be prepared. Here are some ways to take precautions, local style:
112 is the emergency number for police/fire/rescue in Kuwait. Immediately ask for an English speaking person. They will get one on the line immediately.
- Listen to "that little voice." God gave women instincts for a reason. Back in cavemen days, we were prey. We still are. If something feels wrong; it is.
- Take photos with your mobile phone if you can. This is often a detriment.
- Keep your car doors locked - ALWAYS. The minute you get in your car, lock the door and keep the window up.
- Do not open your car windows for anyone for any reason. Unless you see a badge/ID, you don't have to. There are many plain-clothed police officers on patrol these days. If one approaches your car, ask for his ID from your CLOSED car. If he doesn't give it to you, call 112.
- Scream and draw attention to yourself. If you say something like, "Rape!" many people will be shamed and afraid to help. Scream, "Thief" (or "haramy" in Arabic) and it is more likely to bring help. (God knows money is a motivator...)
- Pepper spray: Not available in Kuwait. You can bring it into the country without any difficulties (I do) or learn how to make your own and keep it on you (or in your car door compartment) at all times.
- Self-Defense: Learn how to defend yourself. YouTube has lots of videos with techniques. I've only seen one self defense course offered for women in Kuwait. Ever. (I had to fight a man late at night who followed me home and ran after me into my apartment building in Salmiya. I could tell he was high on something - and had already taken down his pants. I started kicking, screaming and punching. He ran (with his pants down around his ankles). When I called the police - from the safety of my apartment - they told me to go downstairs and wait for the police cruiser to arrive!!! Whaaat?! So he could finish the job? No thanks!) Sometimes you are alone and have no choice: FIGHT.
- NEVER let anyone take you to a secondary location. If you are being abducted. FIGHT at the first location. Don't let them take you somewhere remote. If the cab starts taking you on an unknown or long route away from your destination, ask the driver to turn around. If he doesn't, FIGHT. Use whatever means you can. If you're in the back seat, use a belt or a purse handle to put around his neck. Hit him with a hard object. Whatever. Getting hurt in an accident is better than being raped or killed in a remote location; and you are more likely to get help faster.
- Fight back if there is no other choice. Kick him in the groin. If he's on top of you, take your thumb and apply pressure to the side of his eye and pop his eyeball out. It will hurt him like hell, but they can pop it back in at the hospital and you'll be alive. Think of yourself first.
God forbid anything bad happens to anyone (anywhere). Stay safe.