Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Corruption at the Morgue

Where is the Kuwaiti detective novel? I follow Guido Brunetti in Donna Leon’s series on Venice, Dave Robicheaux, the James Lee Burke detective in a small town just outside New Orleans, and now, Investigator Chen, who is a chief investigator in China, but where, oh where is the Kuwait detective / mystery? It is just waiting to be written.

In yesterday’s Kuwait Times is an article I would love to link you to, but it isn’t there, not even when I search “female coroner” from the headline on page 3. Did you know Kuwait had a female coroner, a la Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan and Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpatta? As you read the article, it makes sense, as the bodies are kept semi-segregated in the morgue, and women work on women (some of the time) and men on men.

I’m impressed. Any time a woman takes on a traditionally men’s job, it takes a whole lot of courage. I imagine the requirements to be a coroner here are similar to other countries – you have to have a medical degree (be a doctor) and then have advanced training in forensics. So when Nawal Boshehri speaks out, I listen. She’s got my attention.

Nawal Boshehri says conditions in the morgue are awful. From a personal point of view, she has been sexually molested by her superior and frozen in her position over false accusations that she has not been going to work or signing in or out. She has asked the minister of interior to look into her complaints.

As an institution, she reports serious issues – labs that lack necessary equipment, to do tests, such as those that measure drugs and alcohol in the bloodstream, outdated machinery, rusty machinery, lack of ventilation (in a morgue! horrors!) and she states they are constantly in fear of getting infections.

She claims that reports have sometimes been manipulated and twisted to give prosecutors the wrong technical information that would sometimes end up setting a guilty person free, and that one time they certified a murder had been insane without him ever having been examined by any mental health professionals. She was once asked to provide a report that made one citizen swap places with the assaulted expatriate, so that the assaulted expatriate would appear to be the guilty party.

She adds that she fears for her life. She says “a senior coroner at the department falsified reports, namely those related to detainees, who underwent police brutality during interrogations. He usually did this as favors to his colleagues to help them get promoted instead of being punished for their brutality.” She added that because she has reported these things, she fears for her own life.

Every nation has corruption. Corruption is chaotic, and when you get serious about rule of law, you still have corruption, but you do your best to root it out. You report it when it happens. I think that Nawal Boshehri has enough confidence in Kuwait’s institutions to go public with her allegations. While it may appear dirty laundry, that she CAN go public is a very positive sign. I can imagine she fears for her life, and yet, she seems to be fighting to retain her job. That’s very brave.

That the Kuwait Times will publish the article on page three, in three columns, that is also very brave, and speaks well of the increasing confidence in a free press.

Wouldn’t this make a great detective novel?

March 11, 2008 - Posted by | Biography, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Customer Service, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , ,


  1. Way to go. Its people like this that make things better in the world.

    Does this mean we will get CSI:Kuwait soon 🙂

    Comment by Bader | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. I don’t know about a novel but its good to see whistle blowers!!

    Comment by error | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. CSI: Kuwait! Now that I would love to see, Bader.

    It is good, Error, and a really positive sign for Kuwait, that people believe that they will make a difference by exposing the problem, instead of going along, and keeping quiet about the problem.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. It was horrifying to read that and I also searched for the article online;

    it is a translation of an Arabic report with Boushehri in the newspaper Al-Rai which I have linked on MyDelicious.

    I certainly think these are the kinds of issues we should be shouting about with our local MPs to investigate in parliament.

    Shudder…can you just imagine what might be happening when one dies to be left in such circumstances???

    Comment by jewaira | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  5. intrigued.

    Comment by Mrm | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  6. Jewaira – there were some of those kinds of things in the article that I left out, because I think in morgues, sometimes there is a more casual attitude toward bodies. I think these things happen in morgues world-wide.

    You know me, I want that lab to have state-of-the-art equipment, TRAINED personnel who treat the dead with respect, and for the results to be totally influence-free. If you’ve read Cornwell and/or Reichs, ou know that there is always pressure on the forensic examiner to produce a politically-correct or convenient result. We gain as nations when our bureaucracies produce bureaucrats with consciences. Like Nawal Boshehri.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  7. Mrm – Intrigued enough to do some research? Intrigued enough to start writing those books, those Kuwait detective novels? (Putting on the pressure)

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  8. […] Taking Issues to the Paper Here is where this story started: Corruption at the Morgue. […]

    Pingback by Taking Issues to the Paper « Here There and Everywhere | March 19, 2008 | Reply

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