Kuwait Times, Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023 | Rabi Al-Awwal 4, 1445
MPs file bill to cancel coed ban law as students protest
Three MPs on Monday filed a draft law
calling to cancel a 1996 law that bans coeducation at Kuwait University as
dozens of students staged a protest outside the administration offices to
protest a decision to impose segregation at the College of Law. The draft law
submitted by MPs Jenan Bushehri, Dawood Maarafi and Abdulwahab Al-Essa calls for
abolishing the 1996 law that bans coeducation at Kuwait University unless it is
extremely necessary. The bill also calls on the university to create two options
for students: Classes for men or women only or mixed gender classes and let the
students choose which type of classes they want to join.
The draft law is not expected to be debated before the opening of the new term,
and will require lengthy debates before it is accepted or rejected. The Cabinet
on Monday approved an Amiri decree calling for the new term of the National
Assembly to start on Oct 31.
Dozens of university students held a demonstration outside the university
administration offices to protest against the decision taken by acting director
of Kuwait University Fayez Al-Dhafiri last week, enforcing the segregation law
at the law college. Students opposed to the decision have said that the decision
was taken after pressure by Islamist MPs, describing this as an external
interference in the affairs of the university. The protest was called by two
liberal groups, but Islamist students also took part.
Coordinator of the Democratic Forum Group Mohammad Al-Qattan said 1,500 students
at the law college have been harmed by the decision because of changing their
timetables. University registration officials have said that the registration
for students had been completed without any problem. Qattan accused the
university director of submitting to external pressure by MPs who have no right
Member of the law college students board Turki Al-Dhafiri said the decision to
halt mixed classes was politically motivated to satisfy a certain political
group. He said that issuing the decision so late has negatively affected the
students. Fatima Dashti, a professor at the law college, said the decision was
only applied at the law college, while there are many mixed classes at other
colleges. She protested at the interference of MPs in university affairs.
Dr Sheikha Al-Jassem, who was among professors who joined the protest,
criticized the government over its handling of the issue, adding that the
university director did not respect the constitutional court ruling. Jassem said
that the constitutional court in a ruling in 2015 interpreted the segregation
law by saying that segregation can be done in the same classroom by allowing
female and male students to sit on different sides of the room and not
necessarily in separate classes.