Abuse of Expat Women

Muna Al Fuzai
Muna Al Fuzai

An Arab man locked up his wife for four days without food or water, but got away with it after he signed a pledge of good conduct at the police station, reported Al-Anbaa daily. I know for some this is just news that should not be given extra attention, but the truth of the matter is it is not. I’ve been in the field of journalism covering stories of expatriate women and I know for sure that expat women who are abused at the hands of their spouses, brothers and family members do not tend to call for help because they feel completely isolated and at a dead end.

A security source said the incident came to light when the wife screamed for help through the window of her apartment in South Surra, and someone informed the police. The police opened the door of the apartment where the wife was kept hostage, freed her and filed a complaint against her husband. The husband for sure tried to justify his behavior as an act of anger and possibly claimed he was in love with his wife and only wanted to frighten her. I cannot imagine him saying anything otherwise, and that is why he was freed and the wife maybe could not do anything but to accept his apology, until the second round!

I cannot blame her. Unfortunately, it is a typical reaction by abused expat wives here. The problem in Kuwait, like many Arab countries, is that expat women are left to the mercy of their dependents – the husband, the father and the male family man! When the man gets arrested, he uses ‘wasta’ (connections) of his Kuwaiti friends sometimes to get out or pretends to be under pressure or claims he simply lost his temper. For me, these are all excuses and should not justify the abuse of his wife or any other female.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) officially announced 22 suicide cases since April – two cases per week. According to security officials, seven of these were female. According to the population, the rate of suicide is becoming high and it will continue to rise unless something serious is done. The expat woman feels alone, being away from family members, and this adds extra pressure on her and may lead to suicide. Some men use this as an advantage, because he is confident that no matter what he does, his wife will have no choice or way out but to accept her condition and keep her mouth shut for the sake of their kids.

Many differences between husbands and wives occur due to the wife’s salary, and the same problem is seen in the Kuwaiti society too and causes a lot of problems between the couple, and sometimes leads to divorce. The problem of some expat men is that they think they have the right to use their wives’ salaries because living expenses are too much. So the husband orders his wife to give him her income.

We must deal with this problem and a hotline linked with the MoI is needed to receive calls for help. This woman survived miraculously for four days without food and perhaps the goal was starving her to death. Such cases will not be the first or the last, but we must not pass them as just news.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
[email protected]

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