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Amendment to UAE Penal Code

6/12/2021

Although consensual relationships between unmarried couples have been decriminalized in the UAE, the new law provides that if a complaint is raised by a guardian, husband or wife of either of the parties in the relationship, unmarried couples can face six months in jail.

The Federal Decree Law no. 31 of 2021 regarding the UAE Penal Code is to become effective from 2 January 2022, subsequently amending Federal Law no. 3 of 1987. Under the new law, the juvenile age limit is increased from 14 to 18 years old, resulting in a death penalty to offenders who are guilty of rape crimes against minors under the age of 18. The death penalty is also applicable if the victim was unconscious, disabled or in a condition that prevents resistance and if the offender is a family member or caretaker of the victim, or an employer with authority over a woman or domestic helper.

Although consensual relationships between unmarried couples have been decriminalized in the UAE, the new law provides that if a complaint is raised by a guardian, husband or wife of either of the parties in the relationship, unmarried couples can face six months in jail.

The new law further provides that a child born out of wedlock where the woman is of 18 years of age, will result in a minimum imprisonment period of 2 years. However, this will not be the case if the couple gets married or either one of them admits to the parenthood of the child and issues the child’s official documents in accordance with UAE laws.

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