The Arab Emirates: Where It’s Okay To Beat Your Wife and Kids

Seems like Emiratis have been working so hard over the past decade to make sure one main message gets across to the International Community: we are modern, we have money, come build in our desert. Not enough water for you? We will import it in. Too hot for your liking? We will fly in snow (no joke) from the Swiss Alps.

The United Arab Emirates- Where You Can Live in a Gold Palace and Beat Your Wife- legally. Image Credit: Flickr

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the word “excess” have always gone hand in hand. But with the recent crash of Dubai, drowning in its debt, countless unfinished  real estate ventures, and a slew of bad press on migrant worker abuse, the Emirati states have gone into damage control overdrive to fix their broken image abroad.

So what made them think it would be a good idea to have their highest court legalize domestic violence?

UAE’s highest judicial body this month ruled that “a man can beat his wife and young children as long as the beating leaves no physical marks,”the Huffington Post reports. The decision was made after a case in which a man left cuts and bruises on his wife and daughter after beating them up. The court stated that Islamic codes allow for “discipline if no marks are left.”

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan (C) Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed al-Nahayan (L) Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayyan (R). Image Credit: Kings of the World.

Somebody needs to let the Emirs of the Emirates know that it is not okay to beat women and children, and it is especially not okay to make the act legal. Somebody also needs to let the Emirs know that the progress of a society is heavily tied to the progress of its women. The level of security in a society can be measured by how safe women are.

A few years ago a study released by the United Nation on Arab Human Development, stipulated that the one of the reasons the Middle East region lags behind so many others is because it systematically discriminates against 50% of its population- women.

So why would the UAE make such a ruling during a time when it really could use some good press, and during a time when it appeared as though the Emirates, more than many other places in the region, was genuinely trying to move towards allowing women more freedom and representation?

While many other Muslim countries, like Bangladesh, are moving towards more democratic societies that value women’s rights and want them to be equal contributors to their countries, the UAE seems to be stepping closer to the Stone Age.

One thing is clear, you can make all the gold palaces and snow worlds that you want, but nothing lets the world and the international community know what you are really about, and what you really value if you deny half your population their rights, and make it legal for women and their children to be physically beaten by their husbands.

Domestic violence should never be tolerated under any circumstances,” says Nadya Khalife, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These provisions are blatantly demeaning to women and pose serious risks to their well-being.”

Welcome to the United Arab Emirates, where it is okay to beat your wife and kids. Just be sure not to leave any marks.

*This post of mine was also published on Ms. Magazine.


  1. they are stupid! they must be burned in hell! how could they legalize beating wives and young children! they have no heart! i hope one day they would reincarnate as a woman . stop all your bullshits , u dont deserve a good woman. bastards .

  2. being a muslim i feel shame to b in a blog of so called muslim woman who has forgotten who she is…………..up till know in this blog what i hav learned is that yr too baised 2wards muslims n the muslim countries……. u hav pointed out UAE in domestic violence what abt america yr adopted country in means of life style, do u know that this country which has the best ‘human rights’ of western criterias belivers has the highest rates of domestic violence in the world where every 1 out of 4 women suffers this n in rape side it is the country where after every 20 seconds a women is raped…………these r not the features which u find in muslim countries or anywhere in the world

  3. I am glad that you are being vocal about the human rights abuses against women in the Middle East. I wouldn’t be caught dead in Dubai and would never dream of even vactioning there because I refuse to wear a burqa or do anything else that compromises my rights as a woman.

    I am not blaming the religion of Islam, it’s the idiots who want to go back to the stone age with certain passages in it, taking literal references and acting on them, with Sharia Law dictates like child and wife beating and killing women. It’s deplorable what women are enduring over there. Thank God I am an American.

    Even Christianity’s bible has some pretty stupid passages in it but the Catholic Church and the Pope urge us leave interpretation up to the theologists and not take things literally especially when they have to do with violence. The bible has some comments about wife beating and killing for adultry which the Church doesn’t endorse or enforce . . Instead they say Thou Shalt Not Kill … etc. and do others what you would have them do to you.
    I am going to put together a blog about women and I would like to link yours to it. Thanks for taking a stand.

  4. Actually, Dubai is one of the more liberal places in the Middle East, and I’m quite sure no one would expect you to wear a Burqa. Although it is extremely disgusting that DV would be made legal in the UAE, it’s also important to note that this was legal in the Western world until fairly recently, and the Catholic church did not even recognize rape within marriage until a few decades ago…Westerners in general have gotten on quite a high horse on this topic, and most are quick to criticize rather than empathize and try to solve the problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s