Love crimes one of top expat woes
The Filipino Times
By Gemma Casas Published: April 24, 2015
Love crimes one of top expat woes
DUBAI: Thousands of miles away from their loved ones and forced to survive on their own in a foreign land that is home to millions of expatriates from more than 200 countries, a sizeable number of men and women in different ethnic communities find themselves trapped in so-called love crimes or crimes of passion.
The Filipino community, which numbers more than 750,000 and mostly women, is no exception.
Lawyer Michael Barney Almazar, director at Gulf Law, said immorality or illegal affairs ranks as the third most common problem among Filipino expatriates in the UAE.
“We average about two [such cases] in a month but in the course of the monthly free legal aid clinics we have been conducting since January 2014, we have had about 300 enquiries on the matter. A majority of the enquirers are pregnant women who decided to give birth outside the UAE,” Almazar told The Filipino Times when asked how many of their cases involve immorality.
Almazar, a practicing attorney in the Philippines and UK, who is also a licensed legal consultant in the UAE, said immorality is considered a serious offense in the Emirates.
“These crimes are considered crimes against honor. The punishment is detention for a minimum period of one year, which may include deportation. Note as well that Article 120(g) of the Labor Code provides that conviction of a crime against honor is a ground for dismissal with forfeiture of termination benefits,” he said.
Under Sharia law, an unmarried man and woman cannot live together or even share a closed space. This rule is embodied in a clause called Tahseen Al Ma’asiya,which punishes the offenders with six months to a year in jail followed by deportation.
Major ShahinIshaq Al Mazmi, head of the Women and Child Protection Division at the Human Rights Department of Dubai Police, was quoted by a local newspaper as saying saying people who live together without being married are committing a crime.
Major Al Mazmi said police do not go from house to house checking whether unmarried people are living together or ask any person for a marriage certificate. “The police get involved if they receive a complaint against an illegal activity,” the major was quoted as saying.
Data available on this aspect show Filipinos are at the top of the list of those accused of committing “love crimes”, with illegal affairs and cohabitation, or living together without being married, being the most common offenses.Indians, Europeans and Chinese rank next, in that order.
Crimes against honor
“Consensual sex is punishable by detention for at least one year pursuant to Article 356 of the Penal Code. This is usually followed by deportation,” said Almazar.
A person deported from the UAE could face a lifetime entry ban, which may be lifted only in certain special circumstances.
“Under Article 104(e) in relation to Article 102 of the Executive Regulations of Federal Law No. 6 of 1973, the Ministry of Interior may remove or keep the names of the persons guilty of crimes against honor, considering the following: court decision of rehabilitation has been passed for the deportee, legal rehabilitation, amnesty law issued for the crime committed by the deportee or a pardon decree,” the lawyer said.
To avoid troubles with the law involving love crimes, Almazar cautioned Filipinos to be morally righteous. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
“They should marry before they live as husband and wife. Those who are married must seek annulment or divorce first before having a relationship with another,” Almazar said.
Displays of affection among couples – whether married or not – in public places do not fit the local customs and culture. Holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offense to public decency.
Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places are liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.
Filipinos working in the UAEmay benefit from abook to be issued by the Philippine Embassy soon, which aims to give “practical” answers on issues ranging from jobs to legal issues, according to a media report.
“The book will provide essential information starting from pre-migration to the pre-departure orientation seminar to arrival in the host country to their return to their country. So it covers the full cycle of migration,” Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Grace RelucioPrincesawas quoted as saying in the report.
Almazar said the guidebook will target the so-called five Is, or the major issues Filipinos face in the UAE: indebtedness, intoxication, immorality or illegal affairs, illegal recruitment, and improper documents.
Online dating sites are alluring
Even in the fast pace Dubai life, expats find time to build relationships with people of different backgrounds online. While many go only as far as friendly chats to kill time, a significant number actually meet in person.
A Filipina who asked not to be identified said she was dating a British national based in Dubai whom she met on a popular dating site. After weeks of chatting, they decided to meet in person, and hit it off, she said.
Another Filipina claimed she met her special friend, a Western expat, on another popular online dating site.
“I work more than 10 hours in a shop. I have no time to make friends from people around here. Fortunately, there are many online sites where we can meet new friends,” she said.
In spite of several warnings in the past that women take the time to get to know better the person they meet online, and let the relationship grow slowly, many women believe the risk may be worth it to ease their loneliness.