Divorce, Dubai style:
Western Expats exposed to secret sharia courts
Many of you will have read Afsana Lachaux’s story in the Mail on Sunday yesterday-
Afsana Lachaux tells of her harrowing experience while she was trapped in Dubai for nearly 4 years after her marriage to Frenchman, Bruno Lachaux, disintegrated which eventually culminated in her losing custody of her then 3 year old son, Louis, after the Dubai sharia courts ruled that she was an unfit mother.
Some of you will be hearing of this type of situation for the first time and may believe that it is one off, tragic story. Let us assure you that Afsana Lachaux’s situation is not the only in which ex-partners and -husbands have taken advantage of the male favouring sharia courts in order to gain sole custody of their children. We at MACS have come across many, many other cases of mothers losing custody of their children just because they’ve had the bad luck to live in sharia-law countries that always, always favour the men.
One mother, a victim of domestic violence, found herself slapped with court papers from her ex-husband, demanding a divorce and sole custody of their child, while visiting her family in the UK. She is now fighting a lengthy battle through the High Court to stop her ex from seeking custody of their child, which if successful, would mean that the child would have to live in Dubai. The mother, whose residency in Dubai was entirely dependent on her former husband’s work visa, of course cannot also live in Dubai unless she has means to secure work permit visas for herself independently. The whole process is costing her hundreds of thousands of pounds, with her elderly parents having to re-mortage their own home to help fund her legal costs.
So why is it that Dubai, a shimmering jewel of glass fronted high rise buildings and pearly beaches, has suddenly found itself the subject of such negative publicity? Surely, the actions of a handful of westerners such as Bruno Lachaux, going through divorce proceedings cannot be endemic of the whole of Dubai? Wrong, says a United Nation report, Human Rights Watch and many other human rights activists.
Dubai’s, and indeed the majority of the countries that practice sharia law, legal system is geared up against the rights of women. It is inherently misogynistic, and the rights of the mothers are drowned under any statements made by the fathers, no matter how false and misleading.
On the surface, Dubai looks like a dream come true, a real paradise on earth, but once you scratch the surface, you will come across appalling stories of human rights abuses, rape, violence against women and children, kidnap. Only in a place like Dubai, a man can initiate secret divorce proceedings against an unsuspecting wife, and strip her of any rights concerning their children. This is exactly what happened to Afsana Lachaux, after Bruno Lachaux began secret divorce proceedings and managed to secure custody of their child
While the divorce was underway, Afsana Lachaux was kept in the dark about the hearings until six months later, and the sole hearing that she was able to attend, she discovered Bruno Lachaux had asked two police officers, Captain Ali Murad (badge number 8018), and Officer Musa Mohammed (badge number 11952) to give evidence against her. They were the very same police officers who refused to take Afsana’s statement when she claimed she was assaulted by Bruno Lachaux.
We are still waiting on a response from the Dubai authorities to check if police officers giving evidence in a secret divorce proceeding is standard procedure, bearing in mind that, everywhere else in the world, police officers are solely required to uphold the law impartially.
Afsana Lachaux has since returned to the UK and launched a campaign to get her son back, bringlouishome.com. She has also campaigned, successfully, for the FCO to recognise that Dubai may not be the expat friendly place that many westerners think it is- and that mothers risk losing a lot more than just a swanky lifestyle if their partner initiates divorce proceedings- they risk losing their children too.
Let’s hope that her awful situation serves as a warning to others, especially men who, like Bruno Lachaux, think that they can take advantage of sharia courts to deprive their wives of their basic human rights as well as their children.
Mothers Against Child Separation