A police officer in the UAE was convicted on charges of rape, but justified the vile incident by saying the woman is his wife.

In a recent court hearing, the 28-year-old man's prison sentence was suspended. 

"My client took his family with him and proposed to her. She and her father accepted, then it was declared among both families and friends," said Eisa bin Hayder, the man's lawyer, according to The National.

"This is a valid marriage. My client is innocent, he did not rape her but had marital sex," Hayder added.

The woman, whose age was not revealed in court, reported the man in March 2016 after he had forced himself onto her while the two were in the car.

"He jumped on to my seat, removed my clothes and raped me," she said in her original testimony. 

"I was screaming. He told me I could ‘scream but no one would hear’ me."

In 2017, the man was sentenced to six months in prison. According to The National, the short prison sentence is probably due to the fact that the charge differs from "consensual extra-marital sex."

"He argued that they were legally married and appealed against the ruling seeking and acquittal," according to The National.

His lawyer argued that as long as "proposal, acceptance and declaration" are present, a marriage is considered legitimate in Islam.

"Yes, we got married, but when it happened, I was still his fiancee – not his wife. However, we reconciled and it’s all well now," the woman told a judge.

The Dubai Court of Appeal has since suspended the sentence.

Domestic abuse in the UAE

The UAE has no specific law covering domestic violence. The country's Penal Code does cover assault, which could be applied to spousal abuse. 

However, the UAE "should revise its laws to recognize domestic violence as a crime, and take immediate steps to prevent abuse and punish those responsible for domestic violence," according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2014, The National reported that there had been 507 cases of husbands abusing their wives in 2013 by "physical attacks, verbal insults, defamation and threats."

Article 53 of the UAE's penal code allows "chastisement by a husband to his wife and the chastisement of minor children ... so long as the assault does not exceed the limits prescribed by Sharia," according to HRW.

Also, Article 56 of the UAE's personal status code states women must "obey" their husbands. 

Aside from domestic violence, there exists no special legislation protecting individuals from sexual harassment.

However, the country's Penal Code does incriminate any "scandalous and disgraceful act." In fact, Articles 358 and 359 of the penal code provide clear-cut laws when it comes to certain incidents.