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Kuwait constitutional court rules women lawmakers not required to wear headscarf

[JURIST] The Kuwaiti Constitutional Court [official website, in Arabic] ruled Wednesday that female lawmakers are not required to wear the hijab [JURIST news archive], or traditional Muslim headscarf. The ruling was in response to a petition brought by four voters seeking to invalidate the election of two of the four women who became the first female members [BBC report] of the Kuwaiti National Assembly in June because they refuse to wear the hijab. The petitioners claimed [AFP report] that women who choose not to wear hijab should be excluded from the legislature because they are in violation of a clause in the 2005 electoral law [JURIST report], which gave women the full right to vote and run for parliament, but stipulates that women voters and candidates must comply with Islamic Sharia law. The court held [AP report] that the clause was vague and failed to specify to what regulations women must adhere. It also stressed the primacy of the 1962 Constitution [text] and the guarantees of personal freedoms it includes.

In another landmark ruling on women's rights, the Constitutional Court overturned [JURIST report] an article of the Personal Status Law that required a woman to obtain approval from her husband, parents, or guardian to apply for a passport. The court found that the law was also in conflict with the guarantees of personal freedom and gender equality inherent in the constitution.

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