Public health services and education are provided free by the state through the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, which also provides help to orphans, widows, and other Qatari nationals in need of assistance.
Both law and Islamic customs closely restrict the activities of Qatari women, who are largely limited to roles within the home. Women are not allowed to obtain a driver's license without the permission of her husband. Shari'ah law governs inheritance and child custody matters and favors men. However, growing numbers of woman are receiving government scholarships to study abroad, and some women work in education, medicine, and the media. Women comprise two-thirds of the student body at Qatar University. Although domestic violence occurs, it is not a widespread problem.
Non-Muslims and Shi'a Muslims experience discrimination in employment and education. They are also unable to bring suits as plaintiffs in Shari'ah courts. Noncitizens make up 75% of the workforce yet are discriminated against and sometimes mistreated. A constitutional committee convened in 1999 to draft a permanent constitution that would allow for parliamentary elections. Corporal punishment is allowed by law, although amputation is not. In 1995, an American received 90 lashes for alleged homosexual activities.