In a surprising departure from tradition, the United Arab Emirates announced that it would in future punish so-called honor crimes just as harshly as all other crimes. The government announced on Saturday that the new regulation is part of a comprehensive revision of criminal and family law. So far, honor killings in the Emirates have been punished with reduced sentences.
The government also lifted the bans on unmarried couples from living together, relaxed alcohol restrictions and increased penalties for rape and sexual harassment.
Death penalty or life imprisonment for honor killing
The previous separate guidelines for convicting offenders in honor killings have been abolished. According to media reports, guilty parties will in future be punished with the death penalty or life imprisonment – instead of a prison sentence of between three and 15 years. For families of the victims, however, it should still be possible to waive their right to “retaliation”. In that case, the offender’s sentence will be converted to at least seven years in prison.
The legal systems of many Arab countries provide reduced penalties for so-called honor crimes, the victims of which are mainly women. Human rights organizations have been criticizing this for a long time.