UAE legal Q&As: What next for woman pregnant outside wedlock?

A reader asks about what a woman should do if she finds herself pregnant and unmarried in the UAE, while another asks about permissions to work.

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Q: What happens to a Filipina woman in Abu Dhabi if she becomes pregnant outside of wedlock? Is she allowed to keep the baby and remain in her job and give birth in the city, or would she be sent back to her homeland to deliver the child? Is it possible that she is forced to marry the father of her baby?

A: According to article 356 from the UAE penal code, getting pregnant outside of marriage is a crime punishable by law and, if arrested, the woman and the father of her child will be referred to court on charges of having sex outside of wedlock. If found guilty, both could be sentenced to jail time followed by deportation. With this in mind, it is advisable for the pair to get married to avoid criminal charges. However, if that is not possible for any reason and the woman decides to keep the baby, then it is safer for her to travel home to have the child.

I have been told that women living in the UAE need their husbands’ permission to get a job. Is it true that my wife will need my permission?

If you sponsor your wife on your residency visa then she is legally obliged to obtain a no-objection letter from you to be handed to an employer. This is something that employers must ask for in accordance with Ministry of Labour rules. If she does not provide the letter, the employer will not be able to complete procedures with the ministry, and if the company employed her anyway it would mean both the company and your wife would be in breach of Labour Law and liable for prosecution.

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