Like financial, social, and racial issues, domestic violence is a global problem that cuts across national lines. Abusive behavior at home is much more deep-rooted than anyone can imagine. It has major consequences on an individual’s well-being, particularly for women.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse or family violence) is any form of violence or abuse that occurs within the home, such as in a marriage or cohabitation.
The UAE launched the Family Protection Policy in 2019, which aims to strengthen social bonds in the families and communities of the UAE. The policy defines domestic violence as any abuse, violence or threat inflicted upon a family member by another family member. The abuser is further explained as someone who exceeds the guardianship, jurisdiction or authority of the abuser that results in physical or psychological harm to the victim.
Legislation for the protection against domestic violence
Article 7, 8 and 9 of Federal Decree-law no. 10 of 2019 explain the protection from domestic violence. The Family Protection policy mentions six forms of domestic violence. They are:
- Physical abuse is any causing injury or trauma to the victim by way of bodily contact, even if no marks are left.
- Verbal abuse is an act of traumatizing the victim through verbal aggression, verbal attack, verbal assault, psychic aggression, or psychic violence.
- Psychological/mental abuse is any act or verbal abuse causing emotional distress to the victim.
- Sexual abuse is any act that constitutes a sexual assault or harassment of the victim or his/her exploitation by whatever means.
- Economic/financial abuse means any act which prevents the victim from his/her right or freedom to dispose of his/her property with the intent to cause him/her harm.
- Negligence is any act of not fulfilling your spousal duty.
Family Protection Policy
The Family Protection Policy protects women, children, the elderly, and people of determination from any type of violence and abuse. The policy lays the rules, regulations and procedural mechanisms for authorities and institutions working for domestic violence survivors.
The policy is based on the following mechanisms:
- laws and regulations
- protection and intervention
- prevention and community awareness
- training of staff and increasing competencies
- studies, research and statistics.
There are a number of initiatives planned by the government as part of the policy.
- developing a standardized mechanism for reporting and receiving complaints at the national level,
- building a unified database integrating national-level institutions related to family protection,
- introducing university disciplines in the field of family protection,
- developing and executing primary preventive standards,
- the enactment of a law and developing a strategy for family protection.
Along with the policy, the public prosecution authority has given the power to issue a protection order based on the victim’s request. A protection order is issued against the abuser to protect the victim’s body, well-being, and economic status. The protection order may mention the following:
- The right of the complaint is not to be exposed to the defendant.
- The defendant is prohibited from approaching particular sites or areas specified for the complainant’s protection and any other location mentioned in the protection order.
- That the defendant may not harm the complainants or any of his or her relatives’ personal property.
- The complainant or an authorized representative may collect the complainant’s personal possessions.
- Any further steps that the Public Prosecution deems necessary to ensure the effective protection of the complainant or any other associated person who may be injured due to the relationship.
Article 7 of Domestic Violence Law in UAE specifies the duration of the protection order. The protection order can be issued initially for 30 days and can be further extended twice. However, the third extension must be granted for not more than 6 months. Either of the parties can file a petition against the restraining order within 7 days of the issuance of the protection order.
Penalties and Fines
Article 8 and 9 of the Domestic violence law explains the penalties and fines. According to Article 8, if the defendants breach the protection order, they may have to face imprisonment for 3 to 6 months and/or a fine of AED 1000 to 10,000. If the court comes to know about the violence committed during the breach, the punishment can be doubled.
Article 9 of Domestic violence law defines domestic violence as any act of physical, psychological, sexual or material abuse. The individual committing such crimes can be punished with imprisonment for a period of a maximum of 6 months and/or a penalty of AED 5,000. If the convicts repeat the crime within 1 year of committing their first crime, the punishment can be doubled.
Article 10 of the Domestic Violence law gives both parties to reach an amicable solution through penal reconciliation. The article makes a reference to Criminal Procedural Law no. 35 of 1992, which dictates the procedure and rule for amicable settlement.
If you come across someone facing domestic violence or suffering from it, you can report it to authorities through various channels. Additionally, you can also report on the Ministry of Community Development website.
The UAE government has a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence cases, and often, the culprits are severely punished. One can take multiple measures to report the issue of domestic violence through channels provided by the government. You can also take help from our qualified domestic violence lawyers who can help you get justice. People who are wrongly accused can also seek help defending their case in court.