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Adultery in UAE

The percentage of expatriates as of now in UAE are 88% of the total population. This indirectly means that the working class of UAE are mostly the ones who leave their homelands in order to pursue opportunity in abroad. Due to this, it unfortunately results in separation from their families or spouse. These long distant relations are the paramount reason for tension or having extra marital affairs among the couples as witnessed in many cases by Family Lawyers of Dubai although this is not the only reason. Adultery is regarded as a criminal offense in UAE under Article 356 of the UAE Penal Code and the person committing it can be accused of the same.

Ingredients of the offense of Adultery:

  1. There shall be a consensual relationship between two people of opposite sex.
  2. Such relationship shall be of physical nature. A mere affair does not amount to adultery.
  3. One or both of them shall be married.
  4. The spouse of the person involved shall be not aware of the same. That is he or she shall either be unaware about the same or shall not agree to the relationship of the accused.

Following are the main points which one should keep in mind as one talks abut adultery in UAE:

  • The crime of adultery can be defined as the one in which a man and a woman share a consensual relationship, where one of them or both of them are married to other people.
  • The admissible evidence for the offense of adultery are records in writing, eye witnesses and expert evidences.
  • In UAE, there will be an advantage in cases, where the witness is a male Muslim.
  • The punishment for Adultery in UAE is at least one year of imprisonment and up to three years along with deportation. In addition to this the court has a power to exercise its discretion to suspend the jail sentence of the accused or for that matter, to reduce it all together.
  • The basis of conviction for the offense of adultery is the burden to prove that the act of adultery actually took place. This mainly depends on the ones who are non Muslims

Options at the disposal of one who was cheated are the following:

  1. In case one is thinking of opting for a criminal trial, the first prerequisite for the same is that he must have evidence of the cheating partner. This evidence can be in form of admission of witnesses, photos, videos, email or messages exchanged of the letter of admission from the cheating partner. Even a Whats-app message is an admissible form of evidence as it is in written as well as recorded form and depicts the conversation between the accused and a person with whom he/she may be having affair.
  2. The UAE criminal code provides that, the right to collect evidences is with the Police Department, which have the initial responsibility to answer the question that whether the action shall be taken against the crime or not. It involves the lodging of the police report, based on which the investigation starts.
  3. Based on these evidences of subjective nature, the court has a power to exercise full discretion as to decide whether an offense of adultery was committed by the accused wife or husband or not.
  4. The fact that needs to be established in order to prove that a crime of adultery has been committed is that the accused shall be physically involved with a person other than a spouse, unlike the case of divorce or custody, where it is sufficient to prove that the spouse has an affair with someone else.
  5. In UAE, one can even request the court to check the exchange of SMS of the cheating partner. Once the court gives the permission of the same, the prosecutor gets full power to exercise his discretion and order for the investigation of the same.

In the case, where one partner is living in UAE and the other is living outside UAE:

  • A case can be filed against the spouse indulged in the offense of adultery in the courts of UAE irrespective of whether the person stays in UAE or lives in foreign.
  • The person staying outside the country can take help from the Dubai Police or can even personally go to the attorney in order to file a case against the spouse of adultery.
  • The authorities have a discretion to summon the partner staying outside UAE, in order to record the complaint or wherever needed during the proceedings.

Thought the UAE law, earlier provided that the unmarried couples cannot live together. But this rule has been changed, owing to the amendments made on 7th November, 2020 . the UAE had a strict policy that an unmarried couple or two people of different sex who are not related to each other are prohibited to live under a single roof. As a result of which, the person who is accused for the offense of adultery could be charged for live-in relationship also. But now the accused of adultery will be solely charged under the law of adultery only.

Summary: 

According to the UAE penal code, the act of infidelity by either spouse is a criminal offense under article 356. One can register a complaint with the police about the same but the prosecution is responsible to investigate the spouse accused and the other party to the offense. If the prosecution is successful in establishing a physical relationship between both of them, then the court can convict both of them with the punishment of at least one year and up to three years and will necessary deport them in case of an expatriate.

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