By Sarah Townsend
Imprisoning a daughter or sister inside the home is not prohibited under current law, experts say
UAE lawyers have called for new legislation to protect women against non-violent forms of abuse, it was reported on Monday.
It follows research and field visits by the national human rights committee since 2014.
Court cases revealed gaps in laws that should have protected women against being imprisoned in their homes or being subject to passive psychological abuse, according to a report in The National.
UAE law reportedly gives women over the age of 21 ‘free will’. However, imprisoning a daughter or sister inside the home is not specifically prohibited, the newspaper said.
There are also laws against kidnapping or impeding another person’s freedom, but within the same family the legal position is not as clear cut.
Legal counsel Yazan Al Rawashdeh was quoted as saying: “When a stranger is held captive or kidnapped, it is clear that they have been taken against their will.”
However, he added that in the case of a Jordanian woman who was held by her husband and in-laws at their home for three years, it could not be proven.
“She was only allowed to speak to her family twice through the three years. And she only left the house once since she arrived with her husband,” Al Rawashdeh recalled.
Eventually, she filed for divorce and damages in UAE courts, the newspaper reported, but she lost because of lack of evidence and because her in-laws testified against her.
She later appealed in Jordan and won her case. However, experts say the current UAE law is worryingly flimsy.
Ahmad Abdulazeem, a senior legal counsellor based in Abu Dhabi explained that the personal affairs law allows a husband to keep his wife at home as long as he sponsors her financially and allows her to visit her family elsewhere.
However, the law has not stipulated what should happen if the husband prevents his wife from using communication methods therefore is unable to report abuse.
The Federal National Council (FNC) is reportedly conducting a study which it hopes will help pave the way for a new law to protect women, children and senior citizens from such non-violent abuse.
FNC member Ali Jassim was quoted as saying:“We finished 80 percent of [the study] in the previous [council] term, and all we have left to do is discuss it with the justice and interior ministries.”