Prison for couple who conceived outside of wedlock

They say they want to wed, and baby was meant to pressure family into approving marriage.

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ABU DHABI // A couple who had sex out of wedlock to pressure the woman's father into approving their marriage were both sentenced to prison yesterday.

KA, 19, Emirati, was sentenced to six months in prison. Her would-be husband, AM, Omani, was sentenced to 100 lashes and one year in prison.

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KA said she was desperate to marry AM. When her father refused his proposal, they decided to get pregnant to pressure him, she said yesterday after the verdict in the Criminal Court of First Instance.

KA is considered a minor because, as a woman, she must be 21 to be considered an adult. However, under Sharia'a law she is considered an adult because she has been married before, and could file a lawsuit against her father to strip him of his guardianship, said her attorney, Ali Al Abbadi.

If that happens, the judge can approve her marriage, he said.

In previous hearings, both KA and AM had confessed to sex out of wedlock, saying they were ready to face the penalties as long as they could get married, because KA is five months pregnant.

At the last hearing, KA withdrew her confession, although AM did not. She was sentenced to six months in prison and he was sentenced to 100 lashes and one year.

The Sharia'a penalty for sex outside of marriage, which is 100 lashes for single people and stoning for those who are married, is only applied if the defendants confess to the act four times or if there were four witnesses.

KA has three months left on her sentence because of the time she already has spent in jail. She said her father wants to put her baby in an orphanage and have AM deported; the judge did not include deportation in AM's verdict.

"I will stay in prison until they find me a solution to marry him. I will not go back to my father's house or give up my baby," she said.