New laws were introduced to the UAE in June 2016 relating to the abuse of children and protection of childrens rights. For the first time, individuals responsible for the care of a child were made accountable for their actions and the safety of the children under their care.
The law is often referred to as Wadeema’s Law in memory of the late young Emirati girl who died as a result of the type of abuse the legislation was put in place to prevent.
Two child protection centers have been set up in Dubai whereas in Abu Dhabi, social workers are made available at the child affairs prosecution service to assist in cases related to children. They have the authority to remove a child if their life is in danger.
There is a hotline number to call to report incidents involving possible abuse of a child. You can call 116111 to register a complaint or concern of this matter.
If a parent reports child abuse, they will be connected to a lawyer for free advice whereas, if a child reports a case, action will be taken against those taking care of the child. The punishment for abusing or mistreating a child may vary from financial measures such as a fine or possibly jail.
As a general guide, the penalty for serious offences relating to child abuse can typically be a fine of Dh50,000 and 10 years in jail.
Local officials are already trying to persuade schools to hire specialist child psychologists and hospitals are being urged to implement a suitable reporting structure. This will help doctors and teachers recognize the signs of child abuse which many children suffer in silence and assist them in knowing the correct actions to follow.