Fighting and arguing on WhatsApp can wreck marriages, Dubai prosecutor says

Technology is thought to have made it easier for couples to accuse and insult each other

Mohammed Ali Rustom, Dubai's advocate general, said social media has led to marital discord in some cases. Photo: Antonie Robertson / The National
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Couples fighting and arguing on WhatsApp can create more problems in already troubled marriages, Dubai's head of family and juvenile prosecution has said.

Mohammed Ali Rustom, who is also the emirate's advocate general, said social media has led to marital discord and even divorce in some cases.

This mainly happens in relationships that are already going through a difficult period, with chatting apps and social media making it easier for couples to accuse and insult each other.

He said despite a change in UAE’s cybercrime laws that stiffened punishments for issuing insults online, cases involving people insulting one another online — including married couples — have increased.

Those who are found guilty could go to prison and pay a fine of between Dh250,000 and Dh500,000.

These penalties apply to all kinds of online communications, including private conversations.

“Several factors have led to an increase in family dispute cases. A busy lifestyle has made people less patient and hastier,” Mr Ali Rustom said.

“Earlier, parents would focus on maintaining their family’s unity and ensured keeping their children out of their marital problems, but it's different now.”

He said lack of communication and overuse of technology has made it easier for people to react spontaneously, as couples often do not think before sending messages or reacting to them.

“Family prosecutors dealt with 706 family dispute cases throughout last year compared to 601 from January to September this year”, he said. There were 567 cases in 2020.

“We always prioritise settlement and suggest it several times before and even after a marital dispute case is referred to court,” he added.

“We never give up on offering settlement, and social experts and prosecutors make great efforts to achieve that every time they meet with a disputed couple.”

Mr Ali Rustom said a “family room” has helped prosecutors and social workers better connect with disputed couples, and helped some of them to reconcile.

Updated: December 08, 2022, 8:35 AM