The Dubai Court of Cassation has ruled that a husband has the right to beat his wife in order to discipline her - provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her bones or deform her body.

At the same time, it ruled that a wife may ask her husband for a divorce if he injures her, either by word or action.

A married woman, who is the subject of such a case, has just been permitted by the court to divorce her husband.

The court also ordered the man to pay a monthly maintenance of Dh2,000, besides the remaining amount of her dowry - Dh5,000. She has also been granted custody of their two sons.

The woman, in her lawsuit, asked that she be permitted to divorce her husband because he often beat her in front of her children and the housemaid.

She claimed her husband beat her on different parts of her body and used an electric cable, or a piece of wood. Sometimes he would hit her head against the wall and slap her.

Not content with that, he allegedly cursed and dishonoured her. The woman claimed that her husband had not paid for her upkeep for more than a year, although he was financially capable.

In her lawsuit, she claimed Dh5,000 - the remainder of her dowry - as well as Dh2,000 a month until the divorce comes through. She also sought Dh3,000 a month in maintenance once she is divorced, custody of her two sons and a suitable residence for them.

Failing this latter arrangement, she sought Dh2,000 a month in house rent, and Dh600 to pay a housemaid.

The Court of Appeal, which made the ruling on the divorce, said this was the only way out since it was plain that they couldn't live together as one in the same house. It is expected to rule shortly on the remainder of the woman's claims.