UAE committed to protect kids against abuse, violence

DUBAI - Despite the lack of registered cases of child abuse in the UAE, and the figures to prove such incidents, the issue of protecting minors against any form of abuse and violence will be one of the priorities in the work programme to be drafted by a special national committee that will be formed following the approval granted by the UAE Cabinet at its meeting last week.

By Sanaa Maadad

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Published: Sat 21 Feb 2004, 12:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:10 AM

"The national work programme will be drafted in accordance with the Second Arab Child Task Plan that was discussed and approved last month at a meeting in Tunisia in which the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs took part and committed to implement the 10-year plan that will be carried out in phases - each achieving a specific set of targets. The first phase ends in 2005, the second in 2010 and the third and final in 2015," said Hussain Al Shaikh, Social Affairs Adviser at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

He stressed that the plan takes into consideration the goals set by the United Nations in which the international body has set phases to eradicate the most prominent child problems such as famine, equal rights to education, decreasing infant mortality cases, decreasing mothers' deaths and protecting children among others.

According to the plan, each Arab country should draft a national programme and a timetable to achieve such major goals, Mr Al Shaikh said, emphasising that the issues which represent a top priority in the UAE as far as children are concerned, are the protection of minors, tackling the issue of child abuse and violence against children in all of its forms.

"The issue of child abuse was highlighted in many studies and during several seminars in the UAE indicating the existence of abuse cases, but unfortunately such cases are usually not reported, because there is no clear definition of abusive behaviour. Besides the conservative nature of the society, which even if there are clear defined cases, prevents people from talking about such incidents openly," Mr Al Shaikh said.

He believes that there is a need to first define the nature of practices and behaviours, which can be considered abusive by studying the local culture to identify the criteria for classifying an abusive conduct.

"What is considered abuse or violence against children or even harassment in other cultures might not be so in the Arab culture. Beating a child to discipline him or her is a common practice and a method of upbringing, and is not looked at as a physical abuse in our societies, of course except in the cases of severe vindictive beating where the parents cause harm to their children," he said. According to Mr Al Shaikh, the next step after defining abusive behaviour is to find a mechanism to protect children by issuing laws, establishing support centres which are not available in the UAE, setting up establishments for the rehabilitation of children who have been through physical or sexual abuse and provide them with a shelter among other procedures.

"Protection of minors includes not only protection of children, but also juvenile delinquents as well as addressing the problems of adolescence. The absence of dialogue within the family between the parents and children's generations and the diverse cultures and influences in the society are creating a sort of imbalance in relationships. Parents should understand the needs and characteristics of adolescence in order to avoid the problems that push children to go astray," he noted.

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