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Campaign to sensitise Dubai community about child rights

Khaleej Times 2019-06-11 21:53:46

All Dubai school teachers, educators, parents and social workers are going to be educated on UAE's Child's Rights Law - popularly known as Wadeema's Law - as part of a nation-wide campaign launched by authorities.

Under the 'My Rights' campaign by the Community Development Authority (CDA), the Dubai community will be taught the rights of children, including how to identify and report child abuse more effectively.

Wadeema's Law, which came into effect in 2016, was named after an eight-year-old Emirati girl who was tortured to death by her father and another suspect in 2012.

The year-long campaign, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Dubai Judicial Institute, will include workshops within schools and at the Judicial Institute for the community.

"We will be conducting workshops targeted at the social workers who work with children, teachers and parents to give them a better understanding of the legal framework in the UAE, with regards to children's rights. The campaign will run until the end of the year and we're hoping to target most of the schools in Dubai and a lot of people who work with children in different sectors, such as health institutions," said Maitha Al Shamsi, CEO of the Human Rights Sector at CDA.

"Child protection is a special priority in the national agenda of the UAE. Our country is committed to providing a safe environment that ensures serious development for children's capabilities and talents. We take all the appropriate steps in the areas of health and education and in all fields to keep the psychological, social and cultural needs of children."

The first part of the campaign will be about educating the caregivers on the legal framework. The second phase will focus on how to recognise abuse and the procedure that needs to be taken, as well as the responsibilities.

In the first half of 2018, about 42 cases of child abuse were recorded by the Human Rights Department at Dubai Police. In that same time period of 2017, the figure stood at 29.

Last year's record, included 12 sexual harassment, nine violence and eight neglect of the right to education cases. A total of 21 cases were regarding children aged between 11 and 18 years and the majority of them were girls, as previously reported by Khaleej Times.

The Wadeema's Law clearly lists the rights of children, including the right to education, engage in an active and healthy lifestyle, the right of protection from all forms of neglect, exploitation and abuse.

"Wadeema Law, issued by the UAE Federal Government in 2016, shows that the UAE is keen to find a coherent legal background to ensure that children in the country have all their rights, and to make those who violate or neglect these rights accountable. The law has significantly contributed in supporting the childcare providers and strengthen the child protection system in the UAE,  in accordance with the local Arabic and Islamic culture and our identity characterises," Al Shamshi said.

The campaign will start with a workshop to be held at the Dubai Judicial Institute for social workers and school teachers. Articles under the law will be explained to them, as well as procedures that should be followed if any abuse or negligence is noted.

Child protection experts can go inside kid's home

Dr Essam Ali, social policy specialist at UNICEF Gulf Area Office, said: "The new law says that every institution dealing with children should have a child protection specialist. So, they started creating this unit and started training these specialists. The other area hasn't started in full steam, which includes children's participation because the law is asking each emirate to have a children club where they have activities.

"Child protection has gained momentum and so everyone has to stay prepared. By the new academic year in September, all private and public schools or other facilities that work with children have to be ready. Some of them will have the authority from the ministry of justice to go inside the home of a child if they feel the kid is at risk."

What is the Child Rights Law?

>It came into effect in June 2016. Initially named as Wadeema's Law. Wadeema was an eight-year-old Emirati girl who was tortured to death by her father and another suspect in 2012. The incident shocked the nation and brought the need of child protection laws in spotlight

>The law has a series of punishments for abuse cases, including up to 10 years' imprisonment for certain abuses

The law says that every child

>Has the right to be educated and should have access to a comprehensive educational system that allows the development of children's skills.

>Has the right to engage in a healthy and active life suitable for his/her age, and to possess knowledge and means of innovation and creativity.

>Has the right to express his/her opinion and to be listened to, in accordance with the public morals system

>Has the right to healthcare within the concept of maintaining public health and human development of society

>Has the right to liberty and personal safety

>Has the right to be taken care of and to have his/her family security requirements

>With a disability has the right to care, empowerment and inclusion

>Has the right of protection from all forms of neglect, exploitation and abuse

>Has the right to protection without discrimination for his/ her origin, sex, homeland, religious belief, social status or disability

Child Protection Centre

The CDA operates a Child Protection Centre in Al Barsha, which assists residents under 18. The helpline is 8002121.


Ignorance cannot be a defence

Child protection assumes priority since the impact of maltreatment is profound leading to adverse health and mental health outcomes that could last a lifetime. Child abuse interventions should thus be able to reduce the risk factors and promote protective factors. And when ignorance is not a defence, it is vital for caretakers, including parents and teachers, to keep up with the rapidly changing laws surrounding child safety.


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