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Government rejects move to amend premarital law in Kuwait
November 21, 2017, 5:20 pm
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Two ministries in Kuwait have rejected a call to amend the pre-marital screening law and force couples to undergo drug tests and to present police certificate detailing whether the applicant has a criminal record. The government's reservation was cited in a report by the parliament's women and family committee, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the health ministry said that there was no use to the drug test. "The test is pointless because drug users can hide their condition through nutrient solutions. In addition, drugs do not remain in the blood more than 72 hours," the ministry said. "Some medications and painkillers are considered psychotropic substances that may affect the result of the examination. At the same time, the Ministry's hospitals do not have accurate screening equipment because of their onerous costs. It is available only at the Forensic Department of the Ministry of the Interior."

The ministry said that the test could be used contrary to its intent. "A defendant in a drug abuse case can use the certificate of that medical examination before the Public Prosecutor's Office to prove that he does not take drugs. Therefore, the ministry has reservations about the amendment." The report said that the Ministry of Justice cited a "suspicion of unconstitutionality" in its rejection.

"As for the requirement from couples about to get married to present a police certificate of their records at the time of marriage, the representatives of the Ministry of Justice expressed reservations, mentioning uncertainty about its constitutionality and stressing that the Constitution ensured personal freedom and inviolability of the privacy of the couple."

The pre-marriage law was established in Kuwait in 2008 to help ensure the health conditions of the future bride and groom and prevent infectious diseases that can be transmitted through marriage.

Kuwait's health ministry said that the premarital screening reduces common hereditary blood diseases, including thalassemia and Sickle cell disease. The test also helps prospective marriage partners to know beforehand about the possible genetic disease that their children might inherit and give them the choice to prevent it, the ministry says.

Another objective set by the health ministry is "to avoid the financial, psychological and social burdens among families with children affected by genetic or chronic infectious diseases."

"If the blood results of one party are abnormal, he or she will be informed about the lab results privately and if he or she still wishes to proceed with the marriage, the affected party will be asked to sign consent to inform the other party," the ministry said. Kuwait, like most countries in the Middle East, has a high prevalence of marriages between close relatives.

Source: KUNA

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