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UAE High Court: Beat Your Wife, Just Don't Bruise Her

The highest court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ruled that a man is allowed to beat his wife and children as long as he does not leave bruises or other marks, local newspaper The National reported Monday.

"Although the [law] permits the husband to use his right [to discipline], he has to abide by the limits of this right," wrote Chief Justice Falah al Hajeri in a ruling issued this month and released in a court document Sunday.

The limit, as the court defines it, is physical evidence of a beating that takes the accepted punishment to a more severe level. According to Islamic law, the man of the house is permitted to use physical discipline against his family if admonishing them and abstaining from sex with his wife do not work.

Judges were forced to clarify the legal boundaries of beating after a UAE man slapped and kicked his daughter and wife, leaving bruises and facial injuries on them.

Bruises and other physical marks were evidence, the court said, that the man had abused his right to discipline.

While many modern Islamic scholars and lawmakers denounce the practice of beating one’s family members, some maintain it is an appropriate response to a family problem

"If a wife committed something wrong, a husband can report her to police," Dr. Ahmed al Kubaisi, head of Sharia Studies at UAE and Baghdad Universities, said. "But sometimes she does not do a serious thing or he does not want to let others know, when it is not good for the family. In this case, hitting is a better option."