Woman arrested for giving birth to 'illegitimate' baby in UAE

Woman is now in prison awaiting sentencing in strictly conservative country, where laws discriminate against women and migrants

Charlotte England
Friday 23 December 2016 19:03
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The iconic Emirates Towers in Dubai
The iconic Emirates Towers in Dubai

A woman has been arrested in Sharjah, a city in the United Arab Emirates, for giving birth to a baby out of wedlock.

The 30-year-old maid, originally from Ethiopia, had reportedly been working illegally in the city, which is connected to Dubai, when she became pregnant, a police spokesman told Gulf News.

She was taken to hospital already in labour and arrested shortly after delivering a baby boy, when she confessed to hospital staff that she was not married.

The hospital quickly contacted the authorities and reported the illegitimate birth.

A police spokesman said the authorities should have been informed immediately.

“They [the hospital] should not accept such cases of unmarried pregnant women,” a spokesman said.

The Al Qasimi Hospital where the woman was treated said in a statement she needed urgent medical care when she arrived.

“She was in labour so she was admitted immediately,” a spokesman said, adding there was no time to inform the police.

The woman was transferred to a women's prison in Sharjah two days after the birth last week.

Her baby is being held with her in the prison nursery. She is allowed to visit him to breastfeed only, an official said, adding that the case has been referred to the public prosecutor for further investigation.

It is illegal for any unmarried woman to have a baby in the United Arab Emirates.

Women in the past have been jailed or deported for breaking the law.

The UAE has a poor human rights record, but it is a particularly bad place to be a woman or a migrant.

In November, a 25-year-old British woman was arrested in Dubai for being raped.

She was on holiday in the city when she was allegedly attacked by two British men.

When she reported the rape at a police station, she was detained and charged with “extra-marital sex”, a crime punishable by jail, flogging and stoning to death in the strictly conservative country.

She was later released, but only following international outcry.

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