The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced sweeping changes to the country’s Islamic law including tougher penalties for the killing of women by family members.
The amendment to the Gulf state’s legal code was one of a package of reforms approved by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday, news agency WAM reported.
Imposing stricter sentences for such killings showed the UAE’s “solid commitment to protecting women’s rights”, WAM said.
Human rights groups say that every year thousands of women across the world are killed because they are deemed to have brought shame on their family.
Murders such as these are sometimes called “honour killings”, but that description has been criticised by those who argue it is an inappropriate way to describe the deaths.
Such crimes will be treated like murder from now on, the UAE’s government said, saying it would repeal a law that allowed judges to issue lenient sentences for such killings.
One of the reforms will give foreign residents in the country the right to choose their own laws for inheritance and wills. This, the news agency said, will “achieve financial stability for foreign investors in the country”.
The UAE will also decriminalise “acts that do not harm others”, WAM said, without giving further details.
The reforms, WAM said, will “entrench the principles of tolerance in the society”.
The announcement follows a historic US-brokered deal to normalise diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel.
The deal is expected to drive tourism to the UAE, which has built itself into a military power, as well as a place to do business or go on holiday. (Source: BBC)