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Kuwait constitutional court rules women do not need permission to get passport

[JURIST] The Kuwaiti Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that a 1962 law requiring a woman's male guardian to grant her permission to obtain a passport is unconstitutional. The court found [Kuwait Times report] that the article in the Personal Status Law that required a woman to obtain the approval of her husband, her parents, or her guardian before she could obtain a passport violated guarantees of personal freedom and gender equality in the Kuwaiti Constitution [text]. Women and activists are currently working [Al Jazeera report] on equal access to government housing and the right of a mother to pass citizenship onto her children, while the conservative sector continues to advocate restricting women's rights and visibility in society. This month, legislator Mohammed al Hayef petitioned [National Report] the ministry of Islamic affairs to determine whether Sharia law requires women to wear the hijab as a result of ongoing controversy over recently elected female legislators who do not wear the hijab in the National Assembly.

Earlier this year, four women [BBC report] out of 16 candidates who ran were elected as the first female members of the Kuwait National Assembly. One of them served previously as the first appointed female member of Cabinet in 2005. The US State Department 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [DOS materials] praised [JURIST report] Kuwait for increased female participation in government. Women voted for the first time in parliamentary elections in June 2006, and the National Assembly granted [JURIST report] women the right to vote and run in parliamentary elections in May 2005.

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