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Kuwaiti minister refuses to sit next female colleague

Image of Safaa Al-Hashem, Kuwait’s only female member of parliament [VitalVoices /Twitter]
Image of Safaa Al-Hashem, Kuwait’s only female member of parliament [VitalVoices /Twitter]

Kuwait’s only female member of parliament was subjected to sexism during a parliamentary session yesterday after a male minister refused to sit next to her.

Mohammed Hayef refused to sit next to Safaa Al-Hashem in a meeting she was chairing. The meeting was set to start at 12:30 and when Al-Hashem noticed that Hayef had not arrived, she decided to commence without him.


Translation: Argument between MPs Mohammed Hayef and Safaa Al-Hashem
Hayef: I do not want to sit next to a perfumed woman
Al-Hashem: It is your honour that you get to sit next to me!

When Hayef arrived and saw the meeting had commenced, he sat at the edge of the table, instead of taking his allocated seat next to Al-Hashem, which she took offence to and called him out on his sexism.

Hayef then said he refused to sit next to her, because she was wearing perfume; something that many people in conservative Middle Eastern societies would deem inappropriate. Al-Hashem defended herself and her decision to wear perfume, highlighting the sexism she endures in parliament.

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