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UAE abolishes ‘honor crimes’ law granting leniency in latest move towards equality

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The United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday that it will abolish a law that grants perpetrators of so-called “honor crimes” leniency, the country’s latest move to improve women’s status.

Previously, if a male relative claimed that a crime was conducted to preserve his family’s honor, a jail term of between three to 15 years could be granted.

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Under the latest reform, a perpetrator will receive the same punishment prescribed for other crimes, such as murder or assault.

For murder, an individual could be sentenced to life in prison, execution, or seven years in prison in cases where the victim’s family waives its right to “retribution.”

Several other Arab countries – including Jordan, Egypt, and Kuwait – continue to uphold laws protecting male perpetrators.

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Women’s organization in the region and across the world have long called for a legal overhaul of provisions they say grant impunity to those who murder women.

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the incidents of violence against women and to demand more stringent consequences for perpetrators, in front of the Parliament in Amman. (File photo: Reuters)
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the incidents of violence against women and to demand more stringent consequences for perpetrators, in front of the Parliament in Amman. (File photo: Reuters)

According to UN Women, new data shows that violence against women and girls has increased globally as the pandemic forces hundreds to be stuck at home with their abusers. With the pandemic ongoing, UN Women is still collecting data and monitoring the situation.

“As stay-at-home orders expand to contain the spread of the virus, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them,” UN Women said in their report titled COVID-19 and ending violence against women and girls.