Saturday, Nov 19, 2016

Manama: A mother in Kuwait has lost the custody of her children after she was accused of spending hours smoking shisha outside her home.

The Family Court said that she had evidence that the mother devoted a lot of her time to smoking shisha, a fact that affected her health and made her socially unfit to raise her children and look after their well-being, Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas reported on Thursday.

The court insisted that the prolonged shisha smoking was legal ground to remove the custody amid concerns that the children would not be given an appropriate upbringing and education.

Some legal experts said that the legal ground could be used in cases filed by unhappy mothers against their former husbands since they too spend long hours smoking shishas outside their home.

The experts argued the court should uphold the principle in all cases regardless of the gender of the parent found guilty of negligence towards children or of putting their lives at risk because of heavy smoking.

However, they added that no mother has so far raised the heavy smoking argument in any custody case.

Lawyers told the daily that some wives wanted to obtain the divorce and resorted to heavy smoking in order to force their husbands to file for the end of their marriages.

They added that some mothers lost custody cases after husbands saw private pictures of their spouses on social media.

In 2012, judges in neighbouring Saudi Arabia set a new trend in the country by using cigarette smoking as a factor in child custody cases.

“A parent could now lose the custody case if he or she is proven to be a smoker,” a legal official said.

“Under the emerging trend, the smoking factor is now being treated like the drinking factor and can decide the outcome of the custody case.”

The court would favour non-smoking parents and the judge would factor smoking into custody cases to protect the child from the negative impact of passive smoking.

In the same year, a Saudi judge ruled that women who suffered as a result of their husbands’ smoking were allowed to file for divorce.

In 2013, a Saudi woman filed for divorce after she saw her husband smoke “secretly” near their home.

“When we got married four years ago, one of her terms was that I do not smoke,” the husband said. “I do smoke, and I managed to hide it from my wife for four years.

Unfortunately, she saw me smoke secretly as I was standing with a neighbour near our home. She became very agitated and insisted on leaving the house and taking the children.”

Online reactions ranged from full support to the wife for her wish not to be associated with a smoker to sharp criticism of her attitude that was intent on wrecking her family over a cigarette.

By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief

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