When news surfaced that an eight-year-old Emirati girl had been found dead in the desert, families were shocked.
Prosecutors said the girl, Wadeema, was tortured for months by her father and his girlfriend.
Many wondered how the abuse had continued unchecked. Children’s rights advocates knew one reason: the UAE lacks a formal system to protect children from abuse and neglect.
Wadeema’s death and the subsequent call to implement a child protection law was the biggest news of the year for children.
Previously, a children’s rights law drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs had been submitted to the federal Cabinet in 2011. It was awaiting approval when Wadeema died.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, ordered policy-makers to speed up the process.
The Cabinet approved an expanded draft in November, naming the law after Wadeema.
The legislative process is not over, but Cabinet approval was a crucial hurdle. Now the draft awaits discussion by the Federal National Council.
– Vivian Nereim