Authorities say he confessed to stabbing Akbar after crashing his car into hers and kidnapping her and her two children. Picture: illustration/Flickr
Authorities say he confessed to stabbing Akbar after crashing his car into hers and kidnapping her and her two children. Picture: illustration/Flickr

Outrage in Kuwait after woman stabbed to death by man she reported repeatedly for harassment

By The Washington Post Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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Miriam Berger

Farah Hamza Akbar filed two police complaints against a man she said harassed and threatened her for more than a year. But that wasn't enough to keep her safe.

He was detained, according to media reports, but released on bail. Late on Tuesday, her bleeding body, with a stab wound to the heart, was found dumped in front of a hospital south of Kuwait City.

The man, whose name authorities have not yet released, is once again in custody. Authorities say he confessed to stabbing Akbar after crashing his car into hers and kidnapped her and her two children. He left her body at the hospital and fled the scene. Local media reported that Akbar and her family had refused the man's marriage proposal.

After the slaying, a video of Akbar's angry, grieving sister wailing at the hospital and railing against authorities began to circulate online, sparking outrage over the killing in the conservative, oil-rich gulf country.

"That is what we got, exactly what we said, that he is going to kill her, and he killed my sister," the sister says in the video. "Where is the government? We told the judge. I told you many times he would kill her, and now she's dead."

Authorities did not say whether the children sustained any injuries.

In a video later shared by Kuwaiti media and on social media, Akbar's sister and lawyer, Dana Akbar, described in detail her repeated efforts to warn police and file court cases against the man.

Despite reporting that he was threatening both her and her sister's life, she said that authorities did not take her seriously. Instead, she said, they twice detained and then released the man.

On social media, users shared outrage at the gruesomeness of Akbar's death and accused Kuwait's deeply patriarchal society of ignoring women when they speak up. Many women in Kuwait do not feel comfortable reporting cases of harassment to police. In Akbar's situation, she even had a lawyer, her sister, advocating for her.

Among those publiciding Akbar's killing has been Kuwaiti-American fashion blogger Ascia al-Faraj, who has used her large social media following to highlight the harassment women in Kuwait face.

On Thursday, a group of women also held a small protest outside the National Assembly in Kuwait City in Akbar's honor and against gender-based violence. Several lawmakers in Kuwait's all-male National Assembly this week demanded a probe into why the Interior Ministry did not provide Akbar better protection, Kuwaiti media outlets reported.

Akbar's is not the first killing to recently spark outrage in Kuwait. In December, a woman, Shaikha al-Ajmi, was allegedly killed by her brother, who reportedly disapproved of her working as a guard at Kuwait's parliament.

In part spurred by similar cases, this year women in Kuwait founded a movement, called "Lan Askat," Arabic for "I will not be silent," to publicize the prevalence of gender-based violence and sexual harassment they faced.

Kuwaiti lawmakers passed the country's first domestic violence law in August 2020. But activists say it has been poorly implemented and that the legal code still provides men who kill women far greater protections.

Under Kuwaiti law, a man who catches his wife or sister committing adultery and kills her would be charged with a misdemeanor and face a maximum of three years in jail, according to the Associated Press.

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