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Dubai: In most child abuse cases, culprit is either parents or acquaintances

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on August 10, 2021
Photo: AFP

Dubai Police handled 103 cases of child abuse last year.

In most cases of child abuse reported in Dubai, kids were harmed by either their parents or someone known to them, the police have revealed.

Overall, the Dubai Police’s Women and Child Protection Department attended to 103 cases of child abuse last year.

Maitha Mohammed Al Balushi, head of Child Protection Section, said children in 60 cases were abused or harmed by their fathers and 16 by their mothers. About 14 were harmed by someone they knew; six by outsiders; four by children themselves; and three at school.

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Al Balushi said 23 children were physically abused; 20 ill-treated; 17 deprived of identity documents; and 14 deprived of their education rights.

Nine kids were assaulted; nine neglected; eight abandoned and left unsupervised; and three were not given the medical attention they needed.

About 54 of the cases involved children between the ages of 11 and 18; 39 were aged less than five; and 13 were between ages 6 and 10.

Violating children's education rights is the top concern among the cases. Assault is second and physical abuse comes third, the police added.

Case handling

Al Balushi stressed that the section handled all cases with extreme delicacy while prioritising children’s welfare.

Some of the cases were settled by committing the parties concerned to legal pledges. In such cases, repeat offenders are slapped with criminal charges.

“We handle and legally process them on a case-by-case basis, depending on the particulars of each case. Some are settled by legal pledges, others are forwarded to either the Dubai Public Prosecution or the General Department of Criminal Investigation, and some are handed over to the external entities concerned,” Al Balushi explained.

She stressed that abuse, negligence and other violations against children are sometimes a result of dysfunctional families and separated parents.

Child rights in UAE

Major-General Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Murr, director of the General Department of Human Rights, said the police have set a policy to regulate the roles of all departments and police stations in protecting children. This is in line with the federal law concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law.

"All children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services, education, equal opportunities in essential services and facilities without any kind of discrimination. The UAE law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses,” Maj-Gen. Al Murr stressed.

There is a three-phase process to handling child abuse cases: Prevention (prior to receiving report); protection (handling case after it is reported); and support and care (post report).

Campaigns to protect child rights

Major Dr Ali Muhammad Al Matroushi, director of the Child and Women Protection Department, explained that the police have launched several campaigns and programmes aimed at raising awareness about child rights.

"Apart from our main role in protecting children, reporting violations, receiving reports and taking action accordingly, we believe it is our duty to prevent abuse against this vulnerable category of society and raise awareness about their rights," Maj. Al Matroushi said.

Fatima Al Beloushi, head of Awareness Section at the Women and Children’s Department, said the police have adopted the concept of prevention in such cases.

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“The force is keen on enhancing its awareness-raising role on child rights, as per the Wadeema law. This ensures that people who are directly involved in children’s welfare, such as parents and educational institutions, are enlightened and aware of the law to preserve and protect children’s rights,” Al Beloushi explained.

She pointed out the ‘Safety Ambassadors Programme’ has “remarkably contributed” to supporting children and protecting them against any harm or violence.

“The programme has successfully trained 1,090 students from 109 public and private schools to become ‘Safety Ambassadors’ and raise security awareness among their peers; report incidents of bullying and abuse; educate fellow students about their rights; and know what to do if they are bullied or face violence, negligence or abuse,” Al Beloushi added.





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