Dubai A Dubai-based man recently filed a case against his wife in the Personal Status Court, claiming he was being verbally and physically abused by her. Alleging that he had suffered deep lacerations to his body during an altercation, he said he feared for his life. He wanted a divorce on the grounds of domestic violence and even produced a medical report to confirm the injuries. The divorce was granted by the judge and the wife is now back in her native country.
In another case filed at the Dubai Courts, a man alleged that his wife was having an affair with someone. He claimed she was earning well and spent her money lavishly on her lifestyle and lover. He alleged that she stayed away from their home despite having three children. He filed for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. The wife, meanwhile, left home with their children without providing any contact details. She returned much later and agreed to settle the divorce with her husband.
Bizarre as such instances may seem, legal experts say they do exist. Nita Maru, lawyer and managing partner, TWS Legal Consultants said there are cases in which the husband is subjected to physical or emotional abuse and harassment although few get reported.
“Usually, the wife feels that the husband is spending too much time at work. She often feels neglected and ends up being abusive towards him. In addition, lack of time with the wife often raises concerns that the husband is having an affair.”
She said there have been occasions when the wife has threatened to abscond with the children and the husband fears the children will be abducted. “As the mother has rights of custody only until the child reaches puberty (13 for girls and 11 for boys), and then reverts to the father, the father is at times fearful that the mother may leave Dubai with the children. In addition, wives often threaten husbands with accusations of adultery as this is a criminal offence in Dubai.”
Maru said that obtaining a divorce in Dubai often holds the stereotype that a husband can unilaterally proceed with the divorce, while the wife may not. “But in one of our cases where a man was seeking a divorce from his wife, that stereotype was quickly dissolved. The first obstacle arose when we advised the husband that in order to proceed amicably, he would require the wife’s co-operation. Otherwise, the divorce becomes a contested matter and advocates are required to become involved. This comes at a significant cost.”
Maru said the husband faces issues as the wife holds various legal rights against him. “For example, the husband and wife have two minor children together. The father faces difficulties in seeing his daughter and scheduling visits with her as visitations are limited for fathers with daughters. The wife, as the custodian of the children, held the right against him. This is a common issue for men going through a divorce.”
What does the UAE law say in such instances? A spokesperson for Al Midfa & Associates Advocates & Legal Consultants said: “The UAE Law does not speak separately about husband or wife but in general gives the right to any of them who gets abused physically, morally or mentally to take action against the other. In a case of physical abuse, a police report is a must and even if it is the wife who has physically abused the husband, he has the right to approach the police and then go to a government hospital, get himself checked and obtain a medical report.”
She said children end up being the main sufferers in such cases. “The court will consider the best interest of the child and will pass its judgment upon analysing the circumstances of abuse and to what degree it is before handing the child to the victim. It is better for both parties to keep children away from such tribulations because they don’t realise the mental trauma being caused to innocent minds.”
YOUSPEAK: Are you a victim of abuse? How do you deal with it?