msnbc.com
updated 10/18/2010 7:41:53 AM ET 2010-10-18T11:41:53

A man can beat his wife and kids as long as he leaves no physical marks, the United Arab Emirates' highest court has found.

The judgment came after a man slapped his wife and kicked and slapped his daughter, according to Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.

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In the case debated by the Federal Supreme court, the daughter was bruised on the hand and knee, while the wife's lip and teeth were injured.

According to the court, the injuries showed that the man had over-stepped his rights under Shariah, or Islamic law, the newspaper reported. He had originally been fined 500 United Arab Emirates dirhams ($136), but appealed the case twice.

At 23, the daughter was deemed too old to have been disciplined, the newspaper said.

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According to Shariah law, a man can beat his wife and children as long as he has first tries unsuccessfully to discipline them by admonishing and then abstaining from sexual relations with his wife.

Islamic scholars don't agree on the definition of "beating" but they do agree that it should not be too severe.

"Although the (law) permits the husband to use his right (to discipline), he has to abide by the limits of this right," Chief Justice Falah al Hajeri wrote in the ruling released Sunday, according to The National. "If the husband abuses this right to discipline, he cannot be exempted from punishment."

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