KT edit: UAE takes lead in cracking down on domestic violence
We cannot nurture these hopes without addressing the issue of domestic violence, which is often brushed under the carpet.
What does an equal world look like? Ask this question to a man and a woman, and chances are that any notion of equality that you may have is likely to be thwarted. No, we don't inhabit that utopia, but with gender crimes and discrimination becoming a talking point globally, one hopes to move slowly and steadily towards that imagined world. However, we cannot nurture these hopes without addressing the issue of domestic violence, which is often brushed under the carpet.
The fear of persecution combined with the prospect of social ostracisation often - if not always - leave women with little choice but to continue to remain buried in an institution that may have already crumbled. The UAE's domestic violence laws have often come under global scanner for being more leaning towards men. Earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved various policies to contain domestic violence, and now a set of legal changes hopes to strengthen the law further.
According to a report, judges will now have the power to forbid abusive spouses from reaching out to their families. Earlier, while domestic violence was a punishable offence, the abusive partner, following their release, retained the right to meet his family. Not adhering to the restraining order can now lead the accused to a three-month long jail sentence and a hefty fine between Dh1,000-10,000. This is a small but significant step in preventing any form of intimidation and abuse that compels many abused spouses to suffer in silence. The proposed change mainstreams the conversation on domestic violence and understands it more holistically as being physical, emotional, and psychological in nature.
More importantly, it also identifies financial abuse, which continues to be a largely grey area under the law of the land. The West's criticism of the Middle East's laws on domestic violence have often been based on its own prism of liberalism. Societies exist in contexts, and the Western view of this part of the world often photoshops that background. While the West is far from being that 'ideal world' itself, as a society in transition, it's these small steps that will help us take a giant leap.