New Report: Women Have Little Protection against Domestic Violence in United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 10:30 PM

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) lacks effective legal mechanisms to protect women from domestic violence and punish perpetrators, leaving women at high risk of repeated abuse. This is according to a new report by Human Rights Watch that analyzed different cases of domestic violence in the UAE committed against UK nationals.

When reporting abuse to the police, women were generally told to return to their husbands because the husband was allowed to do what he wanted in his own home. Investigation and follow-up of domestic violence cases was poor. One case did result in the conviction of the perpetrator, but also the victim for causing property damage while she was being assaulted. She and the perpetrator received the same penalty, a fine.

 In 2010, the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court ruled that a husband has the ‘right’ to physically ‘chastise’ his wife under article 53 of the Penal Code. No independent women’s NGO operate in the UAE; however victims of domestic violence may be served by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, a government run shelter for women and children. The Foundation’s 2012 annual report found that of 214 clients served, 140 were victims of domestic violence. 

 The UAE has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which obligates the UAE to produce statistics and documentation of domestic violence within the country. In 2010, the UN CEDAW Committee urged the country to criminalize domestic violence and compile adequate statistics on domestic violence and violence against women.

Compiled from: UAE: Weak Protection Against Domestic Violence, Human Rights Watch (August 4, 2014).