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By Michelle Gulino, Director of the Legal and Programs department

While the United Arab Emirates keeps up its farcical image-laundering — an attempt to look like a place that doesn’t crack down on dissent and individual freedoms — it has found another façade to hide behind: International Women’s Day.

Starting March 5, Know Your Value and Forbes’ 30/50 Summit will gather lead governmental figures, journalists, celebrities, businesswomen, and even activists for a multi-day women’s mentoring event in Abu Dhabi.

The only problem? It would be massively contradictory and, at best, very awkward to celebrate women’s achievements in a country ruled by a regime that denies women the basic rights that would allow them to attain those very achievements.

While the UAE’s constitution formally enshrines human rights in name, and the country has made some progress in this area, in practice, it enforces blatantly discriminatory legislation, including a male guardianship system, men’s rights to discipline female relatives, and unequal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance.

The regime that rules the UAE marginalizes Emirati women into becoming repeated victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Marital rape isn’t criminalized, and a woman who refuses sexual relations with her husband without a “lawful excuse” can lose her right to financial maintenance.

Other vulnerable groups are also routinely abused.