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Local FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

Innocence lost By Nawara Fattahova

B

oy abandoned in orphanage and children born out of wedlock in a jail ward reveal the plight of unmarried mothers and expat deportees in Kuwait. An Egyptian child from an Indonesian mother and Egyptian father who were both deported has been living at the Social Care Home (SCH) for seven years. According to reports, Osama, who was renamed Abdullah by officials at the SCH, still lives at the orphanage. His father who had committed a financial crime was caught and imprisoned. After serving his sentence, the man was deported to Egypt, his native country. The Indonesian mother, who was resident in Kuwait on a dependant visa, remained in the country after the deportation of her spouse. After her visa expired and she failed to renew it because her husband was not in the country, she took a job in a beauty salon. During a ministry inspection one day, the woman was arrested and was immediately deported to her home country, according to news reports. After the deportation of both parents, the one-year-old child was placed at the SCH. An official from SCH blamed the parents for not taking their child with them and said that the government will cooperate with the respective embassies and would simplify the procedures of returning the child to his parents. Procedures not followed PR Director of the Ministry of Interior Col Adel Al-Hashash noted that the correct deportation procedures were not followed. “Usually when an expat is deported for any reason, his family members who are his dependants and are residing in the country on family visas will be deported along with him. If for any reason they were not deported with him at the same time, they will follow him as soon as possible,” he told Kuwait Times. Hashash expressed surprise as to why the wife and son of the deportee were not deported along with him or why the

son was not deported with his mother. “Maybe the father and the mother didn’t admit having a child,” surmised Hashash. According to an official from the SCH who preferred to remain anonymous, Abdullah has been staying at the SCH for about seven years. “He entered the orphanage as a child of unknown parents, so he is treated like the rest of the kids in the facility. He goes to an Arabic school, and he will stay at the orphanage until he turns 21 years old,” the official noted. According to him, based on official documents proving the parents of a child, the SCH will cooperate with the embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to simplify handing over the child to his legal parents. “The documents Abdullah was registered with when entering the SCH states that his parents are unknown. Also, we didn’t receive any correspondence from any institution demanding to take him,” he added. The SCH only accepts children from unknown parents, with exceptions. “We only have two cases of abandoned kids from known parents and they are exceptions as these are humanitarian cases. We also accept children born from illicit pregnancies, or from a known mother who doesn’t want the child - in this case certain conditions apply, such as having birth certificate and a verdict from the court,” explained the official. Maj Naser Buslaib, Head of the Security Information Department of the Ministry of Interior noted that some single mothers are kept in a special section of the women’s prison for illicit pregnancies, without specifying their number or nationality. “If the single mother is a Kuwaiti, which is very rare, then she will stay here depending on the verdict issued from the court. If the mother is an expat, she will be deported along with her child. The Ministry of Interior is an executive institution and does not decide how long they stay,” he pointed out. Ward 10 Ward 10 is the “illicit pregnancy ward” at the Maternity Hospital in the Sabah medical zone. Women who deliver from illicit pregnancies are confined here. They are not allowed to leave and outsiders are not allowed to enter. An administrative

staff working at the hospital said currently there are about 10 mothers in this ward, mostly Asian maids. “Even if a pregnant married woman comes to the hospital without a marriage certificate, she will be placed in this ward till she brings the certificate. If the unmarried mother is a Kuwaiti national, the police will arrest the father and force him to marry her. If he denies and the DNA test proves he is not the father, then she as the rest of expat single mothers will go to jail until the court decides what will happen with her,” she stated. According to her, these mothers don’t stay for long periods at the hospital. “They usually stay for a few weeks and sometimes months until a ruling from the general prosecutor. After that, they are transferred to prison. They receive donations in the form of baby clothes, diapers and other items from charity groups and even from the staff of the hospital. I think they are doing fine,” she stated. The smell of burnt milk and stench welcomes visitors to the ward, which is open only for charity workers delivering diapers, food, clothes or toys to the women. In a room the size of an average office, 16 new mothers and mothers-to-be share a small sleeping space. A security guard unlocks the door to their room and escorts them to the bathroom. The women hailing from different countries including India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia and Ethiopia all look tired, overwhelmed and very afraid. The woman nearest to the door reaches her hand out while breastfeeding her newborn to grab a blanket to cover her. Another one shyly gets a toy for her baby in a cot in the corner and goes to sit beside him. After a quick chat with the nurse in charge, the women are ushered back into the room as the guest visit ends with the delivery of a few items earlier this summer. At that time, the majority of the 16 women locked in the ward were awaiting their jail sentences and deportation. Dirt and stuffiness as well as unwelcoming looks from the employees is the first sight of the jail-ward. Then come the looks of fear for their children, for their own future and the wait for their punishment.

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