What constitutes rape:

The crime of rape can be defined as "unlawful sexual activity, most often involving sexual intercourse, against the will of the victim through force or the threat of force or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent because of minor status, mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.  "Rape" under the UAE laws is governed according to the provisions of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 promulgating the penal code and its amendments ('UAE penal code'). Pursuant to articles 354- 357 of the UAE penal code, define and govern the applicable provisions for the crime of rape.

Article 354 states that "Without prejudice to the provisions of the Law on juvenile delinquents and displaced, the death penalty shall be imposed on whoever used coercion in having sexual intercourse with a female or sodomy with a male. Coercion shall be considered committed if the victim is below fourteen years of age when the crime is perpetrated or if the crime is committed against a person whose will is not recognized due to young age, insanity or dementia.

The provisions of Article 354 have now been replaced by virtue of Article 1 of Federal Decree-Law No. 15/2020 dated 27/09/2020; prior to the said changes, under the previous version of this article, any sexual relationships out of wedlock would be automatically criminalized. This led to a situation wherein, often, the victim of a sexual assault was also considered as a party to the crime until proven otherwise. The new amendments have corrected this position, and the said article now criminalizes and covers only rape.

An attempt to commit rape is equally strenuously punishable as stated by Article 355, "Attempt to perpetrate the crimes stipulated in the preceding article shall be sanctioned to life imprisonment."

Article 356 of the penal code further criminalizes the act of sexual molestation, and Article 357 imposes capital punishment if any such act as discussed in the previous articles results in the death of the victim. Article 357 states, 'Should the death of the victim result from one of the crimes provided for in the preceding articles, the penalty shall be the death sentence'.

Procedure for filing rape cases in the UAE:

Many statistics reveal that in cases of sexual crimes, often due to the nature of the crime and the social stigma that is associated with crimes of this nature, the crime in itself is often reported to the authorities delayed. Clarifying this point, the UAE police have stated when dealing with sexual crimes, despite the time delay of even up to three years, the crime can be reported to the police, and thus a criminal complaint will be registered by the police. However, it should be noted that forensic evidence is often relied upon to prove a crime of rape and therefore, time is of the essence, and care should be taken to file the complaint at the earliest.

The UAE ensures that strict laws are in place to protect the safety and security of its citizens and residents alike. Recognizing this, the UAE has been recently voted as the safest country in the world for people to walk at night. The recent amendments made to the UAE penal code further ensures that victims of sexual assault are legally protected and can file a complaint against the offender without cause of fear or bias.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.