Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fujairah Court Punishes by Jailing, Fining and Lashing

The Gulf News reported (7 October 2008) the following news from the Fujairah Police and the Courts:

“A 28-year-old man was jailed for three months, fined Dh500 and will receive 80 lashes after the Fujairah Appeal Court found him guilty of assaulting his wife, drinking alcohol and attempting suicide.”

While the news article may not have furnished all the details of the case, the report is noteworthy for several reasons:

Enough is Enough
The police and the courts are increasingly taking seriously the matter of domestic violence and women are exercising their rights. The article reports:

“The Emirati was arrested after his wife called up the police to complain that she was being assaulted.”

Such a court case will give courage to other women in similar circumstances to speak out rather than continue to suffer in silence when they or their children are attacked. This incident illustrates the way that the police are validating the testimony of those who are most vulnerable.

The public nature of this case will also serve as a deterrent to men and women who abuse members of their household.

Crime and Charges
The report continues by giving detail about the case, the crime and the charges:

“After arriving at their house, police discovered that the accused had attempted to suffocate himself in one of the rooms by discharging gas from a cylinder.”

“Police also suspected that the husband was under the influence of alcohol and a medical test later confirmed their suspicion.”

“The Emirati was charged with assaulting his wife, drinking alcohol and attempting suicide and the Fujairah Criminal Court found him guilty of all three charges.”

“The suspect chose to appeal the decision, but the convictions against him were upheld.”

In the United Arab Emirates attempting suicide and consuming alcohol (or being ‘under the influence of alcohol’) are illegal acts. It would be interesting to know how these acts would be viewed by police and the courts separately. Do Emiratis get apprehended, arrested and brought before the courts and punished for drinking alcohol or being ‘under the influence’?

Do Emiratis and people of other nationalities get taken to court for attempting to take their own life?

Or are the alcohol and suicide charges viewed with greater seriousness because one action led to domestic assault and the other followed the crime?

Punishment Fitting the Crime
The use of lashing is not unique to the UAE but it is a punitive measure that is still practiced in some countries of the world. It is a physical punishment in response to a physical crime—80 lashes in this case was deemed appropriate for the physical abuse that was meted out by the husband.

The punishment of jailing, fining and lashing may well serve as a measure to prevent the husband from engaging in domestic violence again. It is interesting that the convicted and the person who made the complaint are not mentioned by name, thus minimizing public humiliation for them both.

The details may be missing from the report but what remedial action is offered by the court and the prison to the wife and the husband apart from time apart, time to think, and physical and financial pain?

Does the Fujairah Justice system offer help in the way of anger management and is there counseling provided to enable this couple to work through their problems and explore the possibilities of marital separation or reconciliation?

Dr Geoff Pound

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