Female migrants to UAE warned by Human Rights Watch

Female migrants to UAE warned by Human Rights Watch

Female migrants to UAE warned by Human Rights Watch

According to the charity Human Rights Watch, women emigrating to the UAE with their husbands may experience problems should they attempt to report domestic violence.

The charity is accusing the UAE authorities of not taking domestic violence complaints seriously due to the influence on civil laws of the Islamic Sharia legal system. Under Sharia law, husbands are allowed to physically chastise their wives, and taking a job without the husband’s permission is regarded as a criminal act.

Elements of Sharia are embedded in civil, family and criminal law in the United Arab Emirates, allowing discrimination against women and, according to the charity, eroding their human rights. Divorced expat women have lost custody of their children, even although both partners in the marriage were of the Christian faith.

In 2011, a British schoolteacher living in Dubai and separated from her husband was deported for working without his permission. She was forced to leave her young Nepalese daughter, adopted by the couple prior to the breakdown of the relationship, with her estranged husband in the UAE and hasn’t been allowed to visit her since she left.

According to Human Rights Watch, it seems that non-Muslim men in the UAE are legally exploiting Sharia law in divorce and child custody cases, as it’s impossible for them to lose. There are no independent organisations supporting womens’ rights in the UAE, and the British Foreign Office offers consular advice to those thinking of emigrating, but very little in the way of practical help when things go badly wrong.

Lawyers experienced in the field urge women moving to the region to become fully aware of their situations and the Sharia implications of their positions if a marriage breaks down. Should all else fail, the English courts can still get involved, and legal advice from an experienced British law firm should be sought immediately.

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