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The government grants low-interest housing loans only to Kuwaiti men; Kuwaiti women, whether single or married, are ineligible.
Many of them experience exploitative labor conditions including private employers who confiscate their passports or who do not pay their wages, claiming they need to recoup their fees for hiring the worker.Kuwait's National Assembly in December 2007 introduced restrictions on privacy and on a person's free choice of dress.The new article 198 of the penal code criminalized "imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex," punishable with a sentence of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 1,000 dinars (US,500).In November Kuwait's Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by a Kuwaiti citizen that two of the women parliamentarians be required to step down because they do not wear the Islamic headscarf.In August a court struck down article 15 of the Passport Law 11/1962 as unconstitutional and allowed married women henceforth to obtain a passport without their husband's permission.Kuwait hosts approximately 120,000 stateless persons, known as the Bidun.
The state does not recognize the right of these long-time residents to Kuwaiti nationality or permanent residency. As a consequence of their statelessness, the Bidun cannot freely leave and return to Kuwait; the government issues them one-time travel documents at its discretion.Migrant workers themselves often pay exorbitant recruitment fees to labor agents in their home countries, and must then work off their debt in Kuwait.Kuwaiti law limits wage deductions for debt, but these limits are not enforced in practice.Prosecution and deportation to Iraq and other countries as illegal aliens are possible consequences of failing to sign such waivers.A 2007 draft law would grant the Bidun civil rights, but not nationality. In separate cases in October 2009, courts fined two Kuwaiti members of parliament 3,000 dinars (US,500) each for "slandering the government." The first was fined for criticizing the Interior Ministry's treatment of the Bidun, and the second for making allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Health.Approximately 700,000 migrant women-chiefly from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines-are employed in Kuwait as full-time live-in domestic workers.