Princess Haya’s Case Reminds Us That Domestic Abuse Can Happen To Anyone
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Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, the sixth wife of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, appeared in a London court last month. She had fled the Emirate and has applied for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, Non-Molestation Order, and a Wardship Order for her children.
The full case will be heard in November 2019.
The fact that a Dubai princess is applying for this type of order explodes the myth that such applications for reserved for certain sections of society – the poor, the marginalised, the uneducated.
Domestic violence does not discriminate against socio-economic position. Anyone can be a victim.
Princess Haya is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Her mother died at the tender age of 28 in a helicopter crash in Amman, Jordan. The princess was educated in the UK, attending Badminton School in Bristol and Bryanston School in Dorset, before studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University.
In 2004, she married Sheikh Mohammed.
Although the couple painted a picture of the perfect family, cracks began to erupt in 2018 when Sheikha Latifa, one of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters, tried to flee the country. Sheikha Latifa boarded a yacht off the coast of Oman but was intercepted by Dubai special forces just before reaching Goa, India.
It is believed she is now being held in Dubai against her will.
Princess Haya flees
Reports coming from Dubai suggest Princess Haya has been subjected to increasing pressure from family members, and she no longer felt safe in her adopted country. She fled, first to Germany and then the UK.
Princess Haya is seeking asylum in Britain. Below are the general facts about the court orders she is seeking.
Forced Marriage Protection Order
In 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,764 cases.
The Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) has created much media interest. An FMPO is designed to protect a person:
- from being forced into a marriage.
- from any attempt at being forced into a marriage.
- by providing protection and assistance if already forced into a marriage.
A forced marriage is defined as a situation where a person is made to marry another without their consent or if they are unable to provide consent. In most cases, psychological and sometimes physical pressure is applied.
In addition to the High Court, there are currently 15 courts which have jurisdiction to hear FMPO applications.
Princess Haya is also applying to make her children Wards of the Court. If an order for Wardship is made, the Court must approve any major decision made on behalf of the child, such as whether they are permitted to leave the country or be issued a passport.
Common reasons for a Wardship Order are outlined in paragraph 1.2 of Practice Direction 12D of the FPR:
- a) orders to restrain publicity;
b) orders to prevent an undesirable association;
c) orders relating to medical treatment;
d) orders to protect abducted children, or children where the case has another substantial foreign element; and
e) orders for the return of children to and from another state.
Making a child a ward of the Court is not an action the Court will take lightly. This was illustrated in RB v FB and MA (Forced Marriage: Wardship: Jurisdiction)  EWHC 1436 (Fam) where Mrs Justice Hogg stated:
“Of course, each case will turn on its own circumstances and potentially there will be cases in the future where the circumstances are not sufficiently dire and exceptional when orders would not be appropriate. In this case, I took the view that the order should be made and I would only do it again if there were similarly exceptional circumstances. I put it that way because I know that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Forced Marriage Unit seek guidance as to how far they can go. I do not think I can assist them in any other way. Each case will turn on its own facts.”
A Non-Molestation Order prevents the recipient from ‘molesting’ the applicant or their children. Molestation is not defined by legislation but includes violence, harassment, and threats.
Non-molestation Orders can be made without notifying the recipient (known as ex-parte). For the Court to grant a Non-Molestation Order, it must be satisfied:
- there is evidence of molestation
- the applicant and/or child needs protection
- that on the balance of probabilities, the Court must intervene to protect the applicant and/or their child from the recipient
If the recipient takes any steps towards the applicant and/or child which are prohibited by the Non-Molestation Order, they are committing a criminal offence and can be arrested.
Domestic abuse (and forced marriage is a form of this insidious crime) can happen to anyone, man, woman, rich or poor. No matter who is the victim, it is not their fault and help is available.
The following agencies can provide support:
National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) – 0800 970 20 70
Refuge – 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)
Women’s Aid 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
ManKind – 01823 334 244
Galop LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, our family law team can provide legal advice and representation. Please call us on 020 3372 5125
1 These are Principal Registry of the Family Division, Birmingham Family Courts, Blackburn County Court, Bradford County Court, Bristol County Court, Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, Derby County Court, Leeds Combined Court, Leicester County Court, Luton County Court, Manchester County Court, Middlesbrough County Court at Teeside, Newcastle upon Tyne Combined Court Centre, Romford County Court and Willesden County Court.