On June 15, the new UAE Child Protection Law came into effect, but what does it mean in practical terms? The law includes mention of five key areas:
- Hitting a child
Parents and guardians are prohibited from disciplining children in an excessive manner. A specific example is given of hitting a child in the face, which is prohibited. Similarly, it is not permissible to beat a child in a manner that would lead to the creation of injuries and marks.
It’s intended that children should be disciplined in order to ensure that behaviour is appropriate, but the Child Protection Law sets out that such discipline should not lead to harm.
- Home alone children
It’s been identified that many child deaths have been associated with sleeping children being left alone in high-rise buildings. In order to increase the protection available to children, the new law ensures that it is an offence to leave a child alone in the home.
- Children in vehicles
The law also seeks to offer additional protection to children travelling in cars and other vehicles. A specific measure means that children are not allowed to sit in the front seats of a car, while they are also not allowed to jump up and down when the vehicle is moving. A parent or other responsible adult allowing a child to behave in this way would be regarded as being negligent.
- Psychological damage
The restrictions on hitting children provide for physical protection, but the law also gives due consideration to psychological damage that might be suffered. With this in mind, it is an offence to go beyond what is stated in Sharia.
In short, parents or custodians are expected to maintain the dignity of a child at all times, with reprimands being carried out in a suitably calm manner.
- Proper child support
Finally, the law recognises that every child has the right to live in a safe environment, with access to good quality health and social services.
According to 2010 estimates, almost a quarter of the UAE population is made up of children, although there is recognition that information on the levels of abuse being suffered is absent. This particular law has been introduced following the high profile case of Wudeema, a young girl who was tortured and starved to death by members of her own family.
Commenting on the Child Protection Law, the Director General of the Dubai Community Development Authority was keen to stress that any act that puts a child in harm’s way is prohibited by this law. Punishments range from substantial fine to imprisonment of up to 10 years, depending upon the seriousness of the identified offence.
As with all legal issues, we are able to offer appropriate advice here at Davidson & Co. Contact us today for detailed information on this law, or any other legal requirements that you may have.