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Kuwaiti women granted passport right

Associated Press / October 22, 2009

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KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait’s highest court granted women the right to obtain a passport without their husband’s approval, the case’s lawyer said yesterday, in the latest stride for women’s rights in this small oil-rich emirate.

In many countries in the region, women cannot travel or obtain a passport without the consent of their male guardian. In Saudi Arabia, women also can’t vote or drive.

Attorney Adel Qurban, whose case the court was ruling on, said the landmark decision “freed’’ Kuwaiti women from the 1962 law requiring their husband’s signature to obtain a passport.

His client, Fatima al-Baghli, is one of thousands of women who have been petitioning courts for this right.

The court found the article in the decades-old law “unconstitutional’’ because it goes against the principal of equal rights.

Activist Aisha al-Rsheid hailed Tuesday’s ruling, but said women in this traditional male-dominated society were still a long way from equality.

“We want to see women judges and prosecutors, we want women to give their citizenship to their children, and we want women to have the right to state-provided houses,’’ Rsheid said.