Pharmacists debunk claims that unmarried women cannot buy contraceptives in Dubai
DUBAI // Pharmacists have rubbished a report in the British media claiming they have been instructed to notify the police when unmarried women ask to buy contraceptives.
Reports in a UK tabloid claimed the emirate’s authorities have instructed pharmacy staff to alert officers about women purchasing condoms or birth-control pills.
However, pharmacists said no such order has been received, and if one did come it would be almost unworkable.
“We would never ask whether a customer was married,” said a pharmacist who works in Al Karama, adding many women take birth-control pills to balance their hormone levels.
“We sell condoms and birth-control pills to women and men,” he said. “A lot of young women are prescribed birth-control pills for hormonal issues.”
A pharmacist in Al Quoz agreed, saying birth-control pills can be purchased over the counter all over the UAE without a doctor’s prescription.
“We have never contacted the police, and we have no orders to do so.”
Shreedevi Harish, a pharmacist at Ahlam Pharmacy in Deira, said she had never received instructions to contact the authorities about contraceptive purchases made by women.
“Anyway, it’s usually men who buy condoms, but women do too sometimes,” she added.
Yousef Al Bahar, a lawyer who specialises in family disputes, real estate, criminal and civil cases, shrugged off the report, saying that it was wrong and unfounded.
“The point of condoms is to protect people from STDs and AIDS, and there is no law [in Dubai] that forbids women, whether married or unmarried, from buying them,” he said.
Mr Bahar added that contraceptives are available in most shops, including supermarkets and petrol stations.
“It is available everywhere in Dubai, even at petrol stations. Imagine they ask for a marriage certificate before you buy them?”
Female customers said they had not been asked if they are married when visiting pharmacies and questioned how staff would know their marital status or other personal details.
FR, from Pakistan, said that she has bought condoms a number of times without feeling targeted.
“Although I’m married, I don’t wear a ring, and I have never felt awkward or got funny looks for purchasing contraceptives,” she said, adding that she has never once been asked whether or not she was married.
ES, from the UK, who has been living in Dubai for eight years, also said she had never faced a problem buying contraceptives.
“They never ask me whether I am married or anything. Plus, I was in and out of the place within five minutes. How would they even have time to contact the police? Or know who I am? It’s not like they asked for my ID,” she said.
Dubai police declined to comment.
Updated: February 6, 2014 04:00 AM