What happens if you are pregnant and unmarried in the UAE 2023?
Life often unfolds in unexpected ways, deviating from the traditional order of milestones. While an unexpected pregnancy before marriage may not be alarming in many countries, it presents unique challenges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This article delves into the legal and social implications faced by individuals who find themselves in the midst of an unintended pregnancy prior to marriage in the UAE.
Legal changes relating to consensual relationships between unmarried individuals in the UAE
The amendment of Article 356 through Federal Decree Law 15 of 2020 has indicated a significant legal transformation. With the complete removal of provisions for indecent assault, unmarried couples now enjoy the freedom to cohabit and reside together without the marriage requirement. By allowing unmarried couples to live in the same accommodation, this progressive change paves the way for a more inclusive and tolerant society. The act of sexual cohabitation without marriage in the UAE, previously considered an offence under the name of indecent assault, has been completely removed from the penal law.
While the amendments have not explicitly legalized Cohabitation, they have decriminalized consensual relationships between unmarried individuals. Under the updated laws, the legal status of a child born to an unmarried couple has also been addressed. Previously, such children were considered illegitimate, which presented challenges regarding legal rights and inheritance. However, recent reforms have recognized the rights of children born out of wedlock. These children are now entitled to legal recognition, support, and protection.
It is advisable for couples living in the UAE to consult with legal experts to understand their rights and obligations under the revised laws fully. These changes reflect the UAE’s commitment to modernizing its legal system and aligning it with international standards. They aim to create a more inclusive and equitable society while protecting individual rights and interests.
What Laws Say about Sexual Cohabitation without Marriage in the UAE
As of December 2021, the governing framework for penal laws in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the Federal Law No 3 of 1987 on the Issuance of the Penal Law. Over time, this law has undergone amendments to reflect changing societal norms and requirements. One notable revision occurred in November 2020 through the enactment of Federal Decree Law No (15) of 2020. These amendments brought about significant changes to specific provisions of the Penal Law, resulting in the decriminalization or reduction of penalties for certain acts.
Prior to the amendments introduced by Federal Decree Law No (15) of 2020, Article 356 of the Penal Law regarded sexual cohabitation without marriage in the UAE as a punishable offense, categorized as indecent assault. However, with the implementation of Federal Decree Law No (15) of 2020, Article 356 underwent a complete amendment, leading to the removal of provisions related to indecent assault. Consequently, unmarried couples are now permitted to live together and cohabit without being subject to criminal penalties.
It is important to mention that the issue of parenting rights for unmarried couples was not explicitly covered in Federal Decree Law No (15) of 2020. However, this matter has been recently addressed in the UAE’s new legislation, namely Decree Law No (31) of 2021 concerning the Penal Code (New Penal Code). This law came into effect on January 2, 2022, and is expected to replace and revoke the current Penal Law. The New Penal Code encompasses comprehensive regulations on a wide range of legal matters, including the rights and responsibilities of unmarried couples in relation to parenting.
Sexual Cohabitation and pregnancy
Article 410 of the New Penal Code, which became effective on January 2, 2022, includes specific provisions regarding the situation of children born outside of marriage. The article states the following:
“Article (410): Children Born Outside of Marriage
A newly introduced article addresses the matter of children born outside of marriage. The article stipulates that any individual who engages in sexual intercourse with a female aged 18 or older, leading to the birth of a child through incestuous relations, shall be subject to a minimum prison sentence of 2 years. The female involved in the act will also face the same penalty.
However, it is important to note that under certain circumstances, no criminal charges will be filed against individuals in the following situations:
If the man marries the woman involved.
If either or both of them acknowledge the paternity of the newborn child.
Furthermore, if the necessary identification papers and travel documents for the child have been obtained in accordance with the respective national laws of the individuals involved, as well as the applicable laws of the UAE.
It should be emphasized that the act of marriage or acknowledgement of paternity, as well as the issuance of identification papers and travel documents for the child, will not result in the initiation of a criminal case or the suspension of the penalty, as applicable.
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