This obstinate and malignant relies on pervasive behaviour and beliefs
embedded in our society supporting maltreatment against women. How does a
civilized society condone such behaviour? What can be done to prevent such
actions? A lot of theories have been framed to understand the mentality of men
who tend to commit such an act. Alike other countries UAE is also facing issues
to curb these criminal acts within the country. Nevertheless, UAE has stringent
and severe penalties for such criminal and well-framed procedures to seek an
adequate remedy which is the main subject matter of this article.
Sexual Harassment in any form of behaviour is unaccepted and unasked for and
which tends to humiliate and offend the other person in every way possible.
Harassment can be ongoing or can be one such act. It can take any form
regardless of the place and the relationship with the person committing it. A
behaviour which is freely accepted in a particular society is not considered as
harassment. However, if such behaviour is asked to stop as it is no longer
acceptable, it must be restricted immediately.
UAE legislators as any other country have strict policies against unwelcoming
sexual harassment or hostile behaviour. Sexual harassment at the workplace may
include repeated offensive jokes unnecessary comments, unwelcoming touch,
intimidation and more. Any offensive behaviour which disturbs the work
environment or makes it unhealthy for women to perform her professional duties
shall be immediately informed to the police authorities or to a lawyer to take
The main aim of this article is to guide women in UAE to be aware of the laws
about sexual harassment at the workplace and the procedure to register a
complaint about the same. Federal Law Number 3 of 1987, UAE Penal Code
criminalizes any indecent or disgraceful behaviour towards women. Article 358
and 359 of the Penal Code punishes by way of imprisonment with a minimum term of
6 months. The law reads as follows: "Article 358: Whosoever publicly or openly
commit a disgraceful or indecent act shall be punished by way of detention for a
period not less than six months. In addition, any unwelcoming or disgraceful act
against a girl below the age of 15 years even if not committed publicly shall be
punished with a minimum imprisonment of 1 year.
Article 359: whosoever disgraces women by words or deeds in a public place, or a
street shall be punished with imprisonment of a period not more than two years
and a maximum fine of AED 10,000. Further, a similar penalty will be imposed on
any man who disguises himself in women's clothing and enters a public place
reserved for women. If such man commits a crime in such clothing shall be
considered as an aggravating circumstance."
Furthermore, Article 360 until 370 provides for various categories of sexual
harassment at the workplace and the punishment imposed on any man who commits
such crimes. Few examples of such behaviour are as follows:
Anyone who entices passerby on a road or street by way of words or signs to
debauchery shall be punished with a minimum term of 6 months;
Anyone who prompts an act of debauchery by way of song or yelling shall be
imprisoned with a term not exceeding six months or fine AED 5,000;
Imprisonment for a minimum term of 1 year will be imposed on anyone who entices
women to do debauchery or prostitution, wherever a punishment not exceeding ten
years for those who entice for debauchery by coercion;
Life imprisonment for those who habitually practice debauchery or prostitution.
Procedure to file a complaint
Any woman harassed in any way shall register a complaint at the nearest police
station with the help of a lawyer mentioning the complete details of the act and
the details of the harasser along with any evidence (if any). Upon registering
the complaint, the public prosecutor will initiate the relevant investigation
against the harasser and will draft a criminal report to determine the validity
of the complaint and if satisfied will pass on the file to the criminal court
for their verdict.
Harassment at the workplace can be avoided or stopped if a woman takes a clear
action or inform the employer or other authorities. However, if such person is
adamant on his behaviour a prompt legal action is much needed.