There are stringent laws that protect a child’s rights in the UAE, though child abuse has been one of the most ignored issues throughout the world.
UAE-based lawyer Ashish Mehta said that abuse of a child may attract penalties including imprisonment and monetary ones as mentioned in Article 69 of the Wadeema’s Law, which states: “Whoever violates the provisions of Article (36) hereof shall be punished by imprisonment and/or a fine not less than Dh(50,000) fifty thousand.”
If local authorities get to know that a child has been abused by parents, they may take relevant action against them, as physical or mental abuse of children is considered a crime.
The Women and Child Protection Department of Dubai Police attended to 103 cases of child abuse in 2020. It revealed that, in most cases of reported child abuse, kids were harmed by either their parents or someone known to them.
There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical, psychological/emotional, and child sexual.
Mehta added that children's rights in the UAE are protected by Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child Rights (known as ‘Wadeema's Law’). “Parents should be well aware that a child or children should not be subject to physical or mental abuse,” he said.
Wadeema’s Law states that “taking into consideration Clause 2 of Article 2 hereof, it shall be prohibited to expose the child to torture, violate his/her physical integrity or commit any act involving cruelty that would affect the child's emotional, psychological, mental or moral balance.”
What leads to child abuse?
Psychologists in the UAE believe that frustration and mismanagement of tasks at the workplace may result in child abuse as a parent feels that they have all the rights to abuse their child.
Dr Asad Sadiq, consultant psychiatrist and managing director at Psychiatry and Therapy center at Healthcare city said, that one of the factors that lead to physical violence on a child is the authoritative behaviour of the parent. “Workplace stress should be left while entering your home,” said Sadiq. “The stress of your workplace may have a severe effect on a child’s learning if a parent is abusive. There must be no place for child abuse in any manner.”
Prateeksha Shetty, a clinical psychologist at RAK hospital said that it is a misconception that a child needs to be physically or mentally abused to learn. “Parents do not understand a child must be treated with empathy and there is no place for abusive behaviour,” she said.
Abusing children may continue over generations as a child learns the misconception of physical abuse to be appropriate behaviour. Shetty added that there are studies that state that abusive parents may be narcissists, anti-social and paranoid and believe that they are protecting their child.
Consequences on the child
Having a child to care for comes with challenges, but it is important to remember that your kids are innocent and only want to be loved. If a child is neglected or abused the mistreatment may have a lasting negative impact.
These might be physical, which may or may not heal. But the emotional impact from abuse may have long-lasting effects for a lifetime, damaging a child’s self-confidence, ability to have healthy relationships and to function at home, school, and work.
Dr Sadiq said that involvement of physical violence with children is associated with various mental disorders.
"Children are at a stage of learning and he/she must be taught about being loved and loving others. A child may undergo anxiety, depression, and many other mental factors which may make life troublesome.”
“A child must be loved. Abuses may get the child into bullying others. A few of them may feel anxious and cry often. Social withdrawal and poor academic performance are among many other consequences that an abused child may undergo”, Ms Shetty added.
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