Segments in this Video

Pregnant and in Chains: Introduction (01:45)


See secret footage of a woman in chains filmed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); she is accused of having consensual sex outside of marriage. Women express fear about their pregnancies.

Evidence of a Crime (02:06)

"Hessa" is pregnant and not married; if found out, she could be sentenced to jail and flogging. Hessa's lover left her after he found out she was pregnant and she has decided to have an abortion.

Consensual Unmarried Sex is Illegal (02:03)

Sabah Mahmoud states that Sharia is the source of all laws in the UAE. Pregnancy is irrefutable proof that illegal sex took place for unmarried women; migrant women face prison and flogging sentences. During a year-long investigation, BBC interviewed migrant women from Asia and Africa who fled the UAE because of consensual sex laws.

"Living in Sin" (04:20)

Khait became pregnant a year after moving in with her lover; she decided to return to the Philippines to avoid prison. Airport officials watch for illegal pregnancies and detain unmarried pregnant women. Khait made it safely back to the Philippines.

Zina is a Sin in Islam (02:11)

Mahmoud explains Zina and the basis of Islamic law. An illegal relationship between a man and woman is punishable by flogging and prison; foreigners will also be deported. Hundreds of women are imprisoned every year; domestic servants are vulnerable to Zina laws.

Trapped in Dubai (04:26)

Marie went to Dubai as a domestic helper but left her employer without permission; the employer confiscated her passport. Four years later she met a man and had two daughters out of wedlock. The man's family eventually welcomed Marie and the children until a family friend intervened. Marie went on trial and spent nine months in jail.

Al Aweer Jail (02:35)

Sanctioned footage shows female prisoners reading the Qur'an; Marie describes prison conditions. The Zina laws are enshrined in the UAE penal code; Mahmoud reads the punishment for the crime of "abuse of honor." Women’s rights researcher Rothna Begum discusses the problems with "indecency" as stated in the code.

Dark Side of Zina Laws (04:11)

Unmarried women who become pregnant are susceptible to punishment, even when raped. Laily describes an attack by her employer that left her pregnant; her employer sent her back to Bangladesh without any belongings. Laily had an abortion and never reported the attack.

Trapped by Employers (03:40)

Mahmoud states that UAE lawmakers did not intend for rape victims to be trapped with their abusers; a woman working in a home is in a weak position. Monica was a domestic worker in Dubai when she was raped and became pregnant; she did not report it. Her employer did not want to send her home because she had not completed her contract.

Government Intervention (03:28)

Monica secretly called a radio show in the Philippines for help; it broadcasted live. The Philippine government placed diplomatic pressure on the UAE and they let Monica return to the Philippines. Monica's family came to terms with the pregnancy.

Victim's Shelter (02:58)

Approximately 150,000 female migrant domestic workers live in the UAE. Some who become victims of the Zina laws seek shelter with Sharla Musabih. Musabih was advised to leave the UAE; she returned to the U.S.

Back Home in the Philippines (02:42)

Without plane tickets, Marie would have to remain in jail an extra three months; a charity paid for her tickets. She has no family support and raises her two daughters alone. UAE authorities do not respond to requests for information.

UAE Laws (03:56)

Musabih believes UAE authorities do not understand the scale of the problems female migrant workers face under the Zina laws and kafala system; the laws are based on Sharia Law. Experts discuss the difficulty of solving the problem that some organizations state violates the Human Rights Convention the UAE signed.

Victim Updates (00:49)

Monica lives in the Philippines with her family. Khait lives with her child and parents. Marie lives with her two daughters. Laily died of leukemia. The BBC has not been able to contact Hessa.

Credits: Pregnant and in Chains (00:40)

Credits: Pregnant and in Chains

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Pregnant and in Chains

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In the UAE, strict laws surround sex outside marriage. Prisons are filled with women who have fallen pregnant while unmarried, often due to abuse. Many are migrant domestic workers, particularly vulnerable and often trapped in the UAE by a law which forbids them from leaving the country without permission. This shocking report exposes the hidden persecution of vulnerable women sentenced under UAE law, their pregnancy used as evidence of their crime.

Length: 42 minutes

Item#: BVL118318

ISBN: 978-1-63521-443-7

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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