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Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Commend the United Arab Emirates on Gender Balance in Politics, Ask about Support for Victims of Trafficking and Women’s Health Care Services

Meeting Summaries

 

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today concluded its review of the fourth periodic report of the United Arab Emirates, commending the State party on gender balance in the political sphere, while asking questions about support for victims of trafficking and health care services for women.

A Committee Expert commended the United Arab Emirates for becoming one of the 25 leading countries in the world regarding gender balance in decision-making positions, and one of the most progressive Arab countries in female political participation.

Another Expert asked if there was a special State hotline for trafficking victims? What kind of shelters were being created for victims of trafficking?

One Committee Expert noted that significant progress had been made in health services in the country and the health care system of the United Arab Emirates could be considered a model to emulate; however, there were some shortcomings. What measures were being put in place to ensure that access to sex and reproductive health care was guaranteed? Did the State plan to make access to abortion fully available? What was the strategy for HIV/AIDS? What steps had been taken to allow those without insurance to access health care services?

Responding to questions, the delegation said there were shelters available for victims of trafficking which provided social, legal and psychological services. Victims were permitted to remain in the United Arab Emirates and seek work if they desired, and they were supported in this. Once victims left the shelters, they were given money, and a fund was available to support the victims, with the goal of supporting their reintegration back into society. The victims also received psychological support, legal counsel, refugee status, medical examinations, and were provided with housing, and in some cases, automobiles.

Regarding women’s health care, the delegation said information on sexual and reproductive health was provided to women at all levels. A national programme was in place to combat HIV/AIDS, where women constituted 25 per cent of positive cases. Abortion was permitted when the mother’s life was in danger.

Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, presenting the report, said the Government had a keen interest in the implementation of the Convention. The last three years were special years for women in the United Arab Emirates, during which it had passed 11 new laws and legislative amendments in the interest of promoting women's rights, and their role within the country’s next 50-year strategy. The most prominent of these was the law on the national human rights commission, which recognised this as an independent institution in accordance with the Paris Principles and regulated the role of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The delegation of the United Arab Emirates was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Community Development; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Health and Prevention; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the Ministry of the Interior; the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security; the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates; the United Arab Emirates Gender Balance Council; the Abu Dhabi Centre for Sheltering and Humanitarian Care; the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood; the General Women’s Union; the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department; and the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Buhumaid thanked the Committee and said the United Arab Emirates wanted to strengthen its coordination with human rights mechanisms, including the Convention, to further strengthen human rights in the country, which was something the State viewed as fundamental.

Nahla Haidar, Committee Vice Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue. Ms. Haidar said that the Committee commended the State party for its efforts and encouraged it to take all measures to address the recommendations made by the Committee for the benefit of all women and girls in the country.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-second session is being held from 13 June to 1 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at https://media.un.org/en/webtv.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to conclude its review of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Morocco (CEDAW/C/MAR/5-6).

Report

The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of the United Arab Emirates (CEDAW/C/ARE/4) .

Presentation of Report

HESSA BINT ESSA BUHUMAID, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, said the Government of the United Arab Emirates had a keen interest in the implementation of the Convention. The last three years were special years for women in the United Arab Emirates, during which it had passed 11 new laws and legislative amendments in the interest of promoting women's rights, and their role within the country’s next 50-year strategy. The most prominent of these was the law on the national human rights commission, which recognised this as an independent institution in accordance with the Paris Principle and regulated the role of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.

In late 2019, the Government had adopted the family violence protection act and the family protection policy, which aimed to strengthen a social system that protected family members from any form of violence, including physical, verbal, and sexual violence. The United Arab Emirates had passed several amended pieces of national legislation over the past three years that contributed to the promotion and protection of women's rights, as well as a law on the personal status of non-Muslim foreigners in the country with the aim of regulating the personal status issues of non-Muslim foreigners. A decree was also issued prohibiting all forms of discrimination in the workplace, including on gender, and recognising the right of women to equal pay. The right of women to take maternity leave, or leave in the event of pregnancy or child-related illness was also recognised.

Ms. Buhumaid said that this legislation had contributed significantly to the empowerment of women, especially in the economic field. The number of licensed and owned companies by women in the country was 80,250, and the United Arab Emirates ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa in the World Bank's Women, Business and Law 2021 report. Fifty-seven per cent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates in the Arab countries were women and women from the United Arab Emirates had successfully contributed to the arrival of the United Arab Emirates "Probe of Hope" to orbit Mars.

An initiative was developed with support from United Nations Women, which included more than 300 participants from several Arab, African and Asian countries, and aimed to increase women’s participation in military and peacekeeping operations. In conjunction with International Women's Day, a virtual forum was organised, which aimed at providing women with digital skills to enhance their capabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and open up employment opportunities. Women represented more than one quarter of the Cabinet in the United Arab Emirates and half of the country’s parliamentary membership. Forty-five percent of students in universities and higher institutes were female.

The Council of Ministers had adopted the United Arab Emirates Gender Balance Strategy 2022-2026, and aimed to make the country a global model for gender balance. The main pillars included economic participation, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, well-being and quality of life, and protection, leadership, and global partnerships. Ms. Buhumaid said that COVID-19 vaccinations had been provided free of charge, and the United Arab Emirates had also provided vaccines to developing countries. Pregnant women were given priority during the pandemic, and encouraged to work remotely, in order to protect their health and enable them to perform their practical and family duties.

The pandemic had highlighted gender gaps in most sectors; to address these gaps and promote the fifth Sustainable Development Goal, a pledge had been launched to accelerate gender balance in the United Arab Emirates’ private sector, aiming to increase women's representation in management positions in the country by 30 per cent by 2025. Ms. Buhumaid said the United Arab Emirates stood ready to answer all the questions the Committee had.

Questions by Committee Experts

TAMADER AL-RAMMAH, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for United Arab Emirates, welcomed the national strategy for women of the United Arab Emirates and congratulated the State party on parity in the national assembly.

Another Committee Expert congratulated the progress made since the last meeting with the Committee and recognised the political commitment of the United Arab Emirates. Efforts were recognised to reconcile religion and women’s rights. What initiatives would be taken to continue the review of the provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure the full effectiveness of the reforms made, and to combat damaging practices such as female genital mutilation? The Expert noted that the visibility of the Convention remained a challenge. What measures would be taken to ensure its full effectiveness within the judiciary, and what measures would be put in place to strengthen training for judges on the Convention? What measures were being taken to increase the possibility for non-governmental organizations to support women’s rights, and protect human rights defenders? The Expert congratulated the delegation for the actions taken in the sphere of women, security and peace.

Responses by the Delegation

HESSA BINT ESSA BUHUMAID, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, said the country was seriously studying the withdrawal of some of its reservations to the Convention.

The delegation said that the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates stipulated gender equality and new legislation had been enacted. The family law had been enhanced, and all obstacles which prevented women from working on an equal footing with men had been removed. Amendments had been introduced to the hatred and discrimination laws, and definitions had been amended to ensure compatibility with international instruments. The judicial authority law had been amended, allowing women to work as judges and public prosecutors.

The phenomenon of female genital mutilation was dying out, and was not listed on the services given by medical institutions in the country. Fines were up to $ 27,000 for those who violated the law on this practice. The United Arab Emirates had an integrated system which preserved the rights of domestic workers; it cooperated with countries of origin, providing training and fighting all forms of human trafficking. Importing domestic workers had been limited and several centres have closed due to not abiding by relevant rules and legislation. Following the pandemic, a number of measures had been taken to support domestic workers, including extending permits and free medical examinations.

Service centres received complaints from domestic workers and these complaints had been responded to at a rate of 94 per cent, most of them reaching an amicable solution and the rest being sent to court. There had been training regarding amendments to the Penal Code in 2021, which had been attended by several hundred men and women. Other judicial training had been conducted with many women in attendance.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about specific examples of complaints from domestic workers and what reparations were available. The United Arab Emirates was invited to continue with the reforms; however, it was important that the Criminal Code be adapted to these realities. It was important to address all vulnerable groups.

Another Committee Expert asked for clarification around the reservations to the Convention, asking whether the State party was planning the withdrawal of reservations on articles 2 and 16, which embodied the spirit of the Convention?

A Committee Expert asked if gender-based discrimination had been added to the Constitution? If not, was there an intention to make this amendment?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that data had shown that around 16,000 complaints had been lodged by domestic workers. The Emirates afforded a great deal of importance to this issue; there was a prosecutor in Abu Dhabi who specifically dealt with domestic workers. The term regarding gender-based discrimination had been added to the law of discrimination in 2019. There was a law on discrimination in the workplace, which prohibited discrimination against women in the workplace. All laws were applicable to men and women, and women received equal work for equal pay. Responses to the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention would be sent in written form.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert noted that there was a lack of understanding around the functioning of the General Women’s Union, which had been operating prior to the accession to the Convention. There was no proper mandate within the legal framework for this machinery. What was the mandate of the General Women’s Union? Was there an intention to create a parliamentary commission on women and gender equality, which could help with the lifting of reservations to the Convention? Regarding the establishment of a national human rights authority, did it have a specific and independent complaints mechanism for women to report violations of their human rights’? The Expert commented the United Arab Emirates for their 50-year strategy, asking to see more specifics and milestones around this plan.

Responses by the Delegation

HESSA BINT ESSA BUHUMAID, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, said the General Women’s Union was established in 1974 and was charged with implementing programmes and plans which allowed women to undertake their roles in their respective workplaces. The Union held regular meetings with the ministers and institutions regarding measures affecting women. Women made up 50 per cent of the governing council of the General Women’s Union, which also attended meetings of the national human rights institute.

The delegation said women’s constitutional rights were protected and they participated with men in all realms. The National Federal Council, with 50 per cent representation of women, continued to work with civil society on the ground and through seminars, enabling these organizations to be involved in the work of the parliament. Article 8 allowed for the participation of all members of society in the Emirates in the drafting of legislation, with unhindered access for civil society. The Emirates Council for Gender Equality was created as a result of a recommendation from the Committee in 2015, to address closing the gender gaps within the country. The United Arab Emirates took a proactive role in closing this gap, bringing about legislative reform in areas where discrimination against women remained.

There were institutions which monitored the implementation of the federal law and all stakeholders were held to account regarding their implementation of the law at both federal and local levels.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert said the United Arab Emirates had made great progress in supporting and empowering women, and through issuing new legislation, as well as the establishment of the Centre on Gender Equality. Did all women in the country enjoy the same support and protection? Were there special measures in place for women with disabilities? What were the special measures in place outside the spheres of health and education? Had a special fund been set up for women’s rights? Did the law contain an element which stipulated that 5 per cent of the labour market should comprise of persons with disabilities? What was the experience of elderly women in the United Arab Emirates? Who looked after these women when they could not pay for their needs? The Expert noted that there were shelters in place to support victims of violence; what happened to these women when they left the shelters? Was there a system in place to support these women?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that flexible working laws had been in place since 2017 to ensure the wellbeing of all employees. The United Arab Emirates ensured that all categories in society were supported, including older persons. A law had been adopted which supported older persons and guaranteed their rights and fundamental freedoms. It envisaged a fine or prison sentence for those who committed violations of rights against elderly persons. A policy was developed which focused on health care and quality of life for older persons. A range of services for older people had been established, including reception centres to provide natural healthcare and psychological support. There was a rehabilitation centre for persons with disabilities used for training. Within the United Arab Emirates, towns and villages were fairly close to one another. Women in such areas enjoyed the same services which were provided in cities, including police protection, education and healthcare.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked for percentage targets for the employment of women with disabilities to be sent.

Another Committee Expert said the prevalence of the United Arab Emirates in addressing equality was high. The law on domestic violence was vague; what steps would the State party take to amend the definition of domestic violence? How many shelters were available for victims, how accessible were they, and what services were available at these shelters? The Expert was happy to note that several strategies relating to the family had been adopted by the State. Could the delegation elaborate on the resources and the composition of the Council for Family Policy? How did the United Arab Emirates address the stereotypes faced by women and girls? What had been their impact? The Expert commended the State party for abolishing a law which reduced the punishment of honour crimes, asking what impacts this had had? What mechanisms were in place to document the impact of the response mechanisms regarding COVID-19? The United Arab Emirates had made a commitment to increasing women’s role in peace and security. How would this be monitored?

A Committee Expert asked if victims of domestic violence in shelters received protection in the same vein as victims of trafficking? Was there a special State hotline for trafficking victims? What kind of shelters were being created for victims of trafficking? Were these being created by non-governmental organizations? What was being done on the prevention of trafficking in the country? What was being done to prevent the sexual exploitation of children?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said there were specific punishments, including flagellation whipping, which had been removed from the criminal law, which fell under the umbrella of honour crimes. Those who committed crimes against the family were treated as if none-family members had committed those crimes. Domestic violence encompassed any act which left physical or psychological harm. Victims were able to issue a restraining order as a measure of protection.

The United Arab Emirates had adopted numerous measures aimed at eliminating stereotypes, including the national strategy for leadership and the empowerment of women. The role of women had taken on greater importance in the State party; nine ministry positions were held by women and women had recently entered the fire brigade for the first time.

There were shelters available for victims of trafficking which provided social, legal, and psychological services. Victims were permitted to remain in the United Arab Emirates and seek work if they desired, and they were supported in this. Once victims left the shelters, they were given money, and a fund was available to support the victims, with the goal of supporting their reintegration back into society. Victims could also seek reparation. The victims also received psychological support, legal counsel, refugee status, medical examinations, and were provided with housing, and in some cases, automobiles. Support was also provided to victims in the courts. In the cases of victims who could not return to their home, work was done to transfer these individuals to third-party countries in some instances. Hotlines were also available in all languages.

There was a national strategy for combatting trafficking, focusing on prevention, prosecution and victim support. Training had been conducted within ministries on how to receive victims of trafficking.

The term kafala was not part of the vocabulary when it came to regulating the labour market. The labour market in the United Arab Emirates was open. There was no kafala system, but there were several options to enter the labour market in the country, including under self-sponsorship.

The delegation reiterated the role of women in sustainable development, and women were involved in the fight against violence, space programmes and many other fields. The role of women in science and technology was of great importance.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about the hotline to support victims of domestic violence; was there a unified number across the country for victims to report instances? Did authorities receive training to identify victims and report through this hotline? Were there measures being taken to remove guardianship on an adult woman?

Another Committee Expert asked whether the State would increase investment in women’s participation in the peace and security agenda?

One Committee Expert asked for clarification on the national action plan against trafficking, asking whether this was adopted? What kind of activities were being done to prevent cyber trafficking?

Responses by the Delegation

Concerning victims of trafficking, the delegation said there had been around 4,000 complaints received through the helpline on violence since 2020. The helpline was free of charge. An app had been created which endeavoured to serve as a warning system, to allow for response to future acts of abuse. If a victim believed there was potential for violence, they could answer a questionnaire on the app, where their responses would be analysed and then determined if they required urgent assistance. Training programmes had been conducted in the judiciary and the police to enhance the rights of women.

A unit had been established for child protection in educational institutions. A hotline was in operation which was connected to the student database, to efficiently locate the victim. The delegation said that a guide had been developed which outlined the relevant steps to be taken to protect women at the workplace. This was issued to the human resources department of all workplaces, including those within the public and private sectors. The national plan on human trafficking had been approved. The United Arab Emirates had launched a digital platform which outlined risks faced by users of the Internet, and how to avoid them.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert commended the United Arab Emirates for becoming one of the 25 leading countries in the world regarding gender balance in decision-making positions, and one of the most progressive Arab countries in female political participation. Were there women in the police, and what positions did they hold? How many women were directors of schools and hospitals? How many women were in managerial positions? What was the number of women in civil organizations and international organizations?

Another Committee Expert commended the amendment of the act on citizenship and welcomed that the State party granted citizenship to more than 300,000 people in 2019 who fit the criteria. Did the State party have any plans to further amend article 17 to grant citizenship at birth to children born to United Arab Emirate women? How many children in the country were stateless? What steps were being taken to open citizenship for children born out of wedlock or to stateless parents?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said the United Arab Emirates had taken several measures to enhance the political participation of women. In 2018, there was a historic decision which increased the participation of women in the national council to 50 per cent. Lectures took place through the mass media to increase political awareness among the new generation, highlighting the public presence of women within society as indispensable. Women constituted more than 45 per cent of those working in the diplomatic core, and there was a female minister in the Security Council. The delegation said the State was working to increase women in managerial positions, including the release of a guide on women in managerial positions. Some 200 women were board members of various companies, a representation of 24 per cent, which was one of the highest in Arab countries.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said women had been working at the Ministry of Interior since 1971 and held leadership positions on equal footings with men, with some holding managerial director positions. The United Arab Emirates had a pioneering experience in dealing with stateless persons and had concentrated on addressing the root cause of the problem. The State had not adopted temporary measures; instead, persons were granted their original citizenship of the country in which they once lived, and were now able to enjoy the rights of education and healthcare and others in the United Arab Emirates. It was found that giving a person a passport and legal status granted them all relevant rights. Children born out of wedlock were granted the citizenship of their parents at birth.

Questions by a Committee Expert

TAMADER AL-RAMMAH, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for the United Arab Emirates, noted that the United Arab Emirates had compulsory education until the age of 18. Could information be provided about the number of girls who had dropped out of school? What was being done to ensure quality education for girls with disabilities? What programmes were available for migrant students?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said a number of programmes and campaigns had been launched to encourage female students to join studies in science and technology. Girls constituted 80 per cent of those enrolled in vocational training. Over 60 per cent of science graduates were female.

HESSA BINT ESSA BUHUMAID, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, said that smart applications had been adopted to support distance education for persons with disabilities and measures had been launched encouraging them to return to the classroom post COVID-19. A guide had been provided to parents to detect psycho-social symptoms in their children, and how they could be addressed. All education institutions were required to keep a record of registration numbers to have an overview of enrolments and dropouts. Dropouts had been lower in females than males; around 2 per cent in 2020, and 0.5 per cent in 2021.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert asked about the pay gap process and how the pay gap policy was being implemented? What were the results? What progress had the State made on the ratification of International Labour Organization conventions on domestic workers and on harassment in the workplace? What measures had been taken to ensure domestic workers were not placed in further risk following the COVID-19 lockdown? How had the Government supported women and pregnant women during this time? What sanctions were being included for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that the United Arab Emirates had adopted an inclusive strategy during the pandemic to ensure domestic workers were not left without support. This included free tests and the extension of their contracts to ensure they continued to hold work permits. During the pandemic, there were no restrictions when it came to domestic workers. The labour market in the United Arab Emirates was an open market comprised of many nationalities and cultures. Wages were set based on the skill sets of the individuals, and the diplomas they held. Forced labour and harassment were banned. Despite the impact of the pandemic on the labour market, the United Arab Emirates had a turnover only second to that of the United States. There had been several amendments to the Legal Code to support women in the workplace. Laws had been implemented on equal salaries, and it was forbidden to end women’s contracts due to pregnancy. The Central Bank ensured equality between men and women on the distribution of credit.

The delegation said that the recruitment of domestic workers was very strictly managed with States of origin. All information was made available to workers on their rights. An assurance policy programme was in place for domestic workers to support them and allow them to move to other employment when appropriate.

In response to a question on how the two systems of the labour market - that affecting United Arab Emirates citizens and that concerning foreign workers – were monitored, the delegation said there was actually only one labour market. United Arab Emirates citizens were empowered with skills to compete in the labour market. The market was open for everyone and job contracts were the same for everyone. There was proper regulation of entry to the job market, and terms and conditions for those under the age of 18 to enter certain sections of the job market.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert said significant progress had been made in health services in the United Arab Emirates the country and the health care system could be considered a model; however, there were some shortcomings. The Expert stated that women with disabilities should not be placed in mental health institutions. What measures were being put in place to ensure that access to sex and reproductive health care was guaranteed? Did the State plan to make access to abortion fully available? What was the strategy for HIV/AIDS? What steps had been taken to allow those without insurance to access health care services?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said information on sexual and reproductive health was provided to women at all levels. A national programme was in place to combat HIV/AIDS, where women constituted 25 per cent of positive cases. Abortion was permitted when the mother’s life was in danger. Employers were obliged to shoulder all insurance and health care costs.

In response to a question on programmes to raise awareness and educate women on the health risks behind indicators for diabetes, of which rates in the country were high, the delegation said programmes had been adopted which allowed for the monitoring of diseases such as diabetes, with a view to reducing them. The Women’s General Union worked with associations across the country to adopt several strategies to allow women to fully enjoy their rights. Women’s health care was a priority. An initiative had been launched on mobile hospital units, which aimed to diagnose chronic diseases and other diseases which predominantly affected women.

Questions by a Committee Expert

TAMADER AL-RAMMAH, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for the United Arab Emirates, said strategic plans had been developed in the country to support women in business and women entrepreneurs. Could information on women in leadership positions be provided? How were initiatives which supported women with disabilities improving their employment rates? What programmes were in place to ensure protection against all forms of violence, including child marriages?

Responses by the Delegation

A partnership had been launched with the private sector to increase the percentage of women in leadership by 30 per cent by 2025. Twenty-three companies had signed this agreement which aimed to close the gender gap. Digital protection had been provided to female leaders to establish effective incubators for performance and progress. A programme had been launched which targeted families with limited income, enabling them to become entrepreneurs. An electronic application had been launched which allowed women to market their business. This was accessible to all sectors, including women with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities were given access to an employment platform which provided employment opportunities in all sectors in line with their capabilities. Women with disabilities were part of the social security scheme.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert was concerned that women in the State did not have equal rights when it came to marriage, divorce, property and children. Were there plans to develop an action plan for comprehensive legal reform in areas where discrimination existed? Were measures envisioned to further amend the law to provide women with equal rights to enter marriage on their own accord? While a minimum age of 18 years for marriage was established, the Expert was concerned that legal exemptions existed, which left children vulnerable to child marriage. Was accurate data available on child marriage? How could the State party establish an absolute minimum marriage age of 18 years old? Were there training programmes targeting law enforcement officers, health care workers and the judiciary to respond to cases of child marriage and provide support for these children? Were there plans to abolish the practice of polygamy?

Responses by the Delegation

The personal status law set the minimum age of marriage at 18 and prevented those below the age of 18 to enter into marriage. A law regulated the work of marriage registrars, and penalties were in place for those who violated those policies and rules. Marriage was one of the important subjects for the State. The United Arab Emirates worked on the protection of women and children within marriage.

Laws on child custody were updated on a regular basis and the best interest of the child was always considered. When the mother was not in a position to provide proper custody, this was then passed over to the father. The law did not allow for child marriage. However, exceptions were reviewed on a case by case basis as exceptional circumstances. The courts reviewed the circumstances and looked at the specific reality, and if it was against the best interest of the child, the marriage would not be allowed to proceed. The United Arab Emirates was committed to reviewing the law on a regular basis.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert said that if there were exceptions in laws concerning child marriage or polygamy, the State should try and tackle these laws and close these exceptions.

Another Committee Expert asked what was being done regarding money given at the time of marriage, and whether it was symbolic, or more significant?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that in all cultures, to give a gift established relations in the best possible light. Dowries were seen as a positive gift, and these could take many forms, including money. This was something embedded in the culture and religion of the country.

Closing Remarks

HESSA BINT ESSA BUHUMAID, Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee and expressed sincere appreciation for its efforts to review developments made in the implementation of the Convention. The fruitful dialogue allowed the State to draw on the experience of the Committee. Ms. Buhumaid said the United Arab Emirates wanted to strengthen its coordination with human rights mechanisms, including the Committee, to further strengthen human rights in the country, which was something the State viewed as fundamental.

NAHLA HAIDAR, Committee Vice Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue, which provided further insight into the situation of women in the United Arab Emirates. Ms. Haidar said that the Committee commended the State party for its efforts and encouraged it to take all measures to address the recommendations made by the Committee for the benefit of all women and girls in the country.

 

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CEDAW22.020E