United Arab Emirates to end leniency in punishing ‘honour killings’

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The United Arab Emirates said Saturday that it is cancelling “lenient” punishments of so-called “honour killings” as part as of the biggest overhauls of its legal system in years.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has approved decrees for the amendments, the official WAM news agency reported.

Those killings of women will now be treated like any other murder in line with the penal code, the report said. The move is aimed to “protect women’s rights and boost the principle of the rule of law.”

Women become victims of violence – often perpetrated by their own relatives – for allegedly bringing shame to their families.

Another amendment de-criminalized the consumption of alcohol, according to the UAE’S English-language newspaper The National. Anyone who drinks, is in possession of alcohol or sells alcoholic beverages in authorized areas without an alcohol licence will no longer face penalties.

Also, the new laws allow for the legal cohabitation of unmarried couples, the newspaper added. It has been illegal for an unmarried couple, or even unrelated flatmates, to share a home in the Emirates.

The amendments also allow non-citizens to choose the law that governs issues such as inheritance.

“The Federal Law-Decrees mean to further enhance the UAE legislative environment, entrench the principles of tolerance in the society and strengthen the country’s position as a preferred hub that attracts people to reside and work,” WAM reported.

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