Dubai: A woman who filed a divorce case against her husband after discovering he had arranged for another woman to have their baby through surrogacy has won the law suit in the Dubai Personal Status Court, believed to be the first of its kind case in the UAE.
The 37-year-old Indian woman, who had been married to an Indian man, 38, for 15 years, could not have a child. In 2016, the woman discovered that her husband had not only used a surrogate mother but also registered the infant in her name without her knowledge or consent, following which she asked for divorce. Her lawyer Awatif Mohammad Khouri from Al Rowaad Advocates told the court that in return for granting her divorce and alimony, the husband forced his wife to sign a document approving the surrogacy procedure.
The woman launched a divorce case in India but it was rejected and the baby girl was born in March 2016.
“I didn’t know that he had registered the child under my name in the birth certificate. He used the womb of another woman and the egg of another woman without my permission for fertilisation. I was forced to sign the agreement to get my divorce and alimony,” the woman said in case documents. Records said after the birth of the child, the woman’s husband became abusive and stopped providing for her needs.
He tried to send her out of the house and when she refused to leave, he packed his belongings, took all the jewellery and abandoned her before informing her that the baby girl’s birth certificate carries her name as the biological mother. She filed a case in Dubai asking for divorce and alimony and for her name be removed as the child’s biological mother.
The court was told in March 2019 that the surrogacy process was done with the wife’s knowledge and consent but she had changed her mind as the delivery date neared. The husband claimed that the procedure was done in India where surrogacy is legal. He even submitted a copy of the Indian law to support his claim, requesting that his home country’s law be applied in this case. However, the woman’s lawyer told the court that surrogacy is against the UAE’s laws and public morals.
“Although the Indian law can be applied in several cases in the UAE, it cannot in this specific case because surrogacy is against the laws and public morals of the country (UAE) where the case is being heard,” the wife’s lawyer Khouri told the court. Dubai’s Personal Status Court ordered that the child be referred for a DNA test, but the father failed to follow the order after which the court ruled in favour of the woman.
“As per the court’s judgement surrogacy was ruled forbidden according to UAE’s Islamic principles which are part of the country’s laws and public morals,” said Khouri. According to the case documents, surrogacy does not prove lineage of a child. “The court decided that my client is not the biological mother of the child even if her egg was used in the process,” he noted.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a woman (surrogate mother) agrees to bear a child for another person or couple who will become the child’s parent(s) after birth. The legality of surrogacy varies around the world. Many countries do not have laws which specifically deal with surrogacy. While some countries completely ban surrogacy, others do not permit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy (in which the surrogate is not financially compensated).