UAE Court: Limit Wife-Beating

A UAE court has cited a man for going a little too far in beating his wife and 23-year-old daughter, since the punishment “left marks.”

Chana Ya'ar, | updated: 12:08

Arab women in traditional attire
Arab women in traditional attire
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

A court in the United Arab Emirates has convicted a Muslim man for having gone a little too far in beating his wife and 23-year-old daughter because the punishment “left marks.”

According to court documents, the man slapped and kicked his daughter, leaving bruises on her right hand and right knee. He also slapped his wife, injuring her lower lip and teeth.

In a ruling reported this month in the English-language publication The National, Chief Justice Falah al Hajeric decided the man had the right to punish his wife and children, but only up to a point. Moreover, such punishment must come only after other alternatives have been tried and failed, such as reprimands and withholding marital relations.

Al Hajeric stated in his decision that “Although the [Islamic law] permits the husband to use his right [to physically discipline], he has to abide by the limits of this right. If the husband abuses this right to discipline, he cannot be exempted from punishment.”

The daughter was too old to be disciplined, he ruled, and the wife was beaten too severely.

Although the Koran 4:34 says, "Men have authority over women because G-d has made the one superior to the other... As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them... and beat them",  this has different interpretations. The Islamic authorities quoted after being contacted by CNN News following the report emphasized that wife-beating under Islamic or Sharia law is considered “absolutely unlawful.”

Among those quoted was Jihad Hashim Brown, the head of research at Tabah Foundation, which specializes in the interpretation of Islamic law. “When a situation in a marriage reaches the point where people feel like they need to hit someone, that is time for divorce,” Brown commented. “Anyone who would abuse, injure or even insult the dignity of their wife, this has now become a criminal offense which can be prosecuted in a court of law.”

Nevertheless, Arab women – in Gaza, and elsewhere -- are often terrorized by Arab men, and beaten or worse for minor infractions such as neglecting to wear a hijab (scarf) to cover their hair in public.