Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Deport mothers to keep children out of UAE prison

Authorities must ensure that children do not languish in prison along with their mothers. In some such cases, the offenders can be deported.

Mothers behind bars pose an awkward problem for the justice system and society: How to reconcile the need to punish offenders with the need to get each child off to the best possible start in life? What have those innocent children done to deserve growing up behind bars?

UAE law gives jailed women custody of their children up to the age of two, with extensions possible under some circumstances. But some children - those without family to turn to or any other place to live - have no other option but to stay in prison with their mothers.

The case of the Indian woman, arrested on February 18 with her illegitimate 9-year-old daughter, demonstrates how children can pay an unfairly high price for their parents' mistakes.

As The National reported yesterday, the mother was sentenced to five months in prison followed by deportation after confessing to charges of consensual sex, illegal residency and escaping from her sponsor. The mother broke the laws, and can be said to deserve punishment.

But what did the 9-year-old child do to deserve this? She should be in school, and will not meet many good companions in jail.

Before the new wing for inmate mothers opened at Al Wathba jail in Abu Dhabi, children used to be taken to Dar Zayed orphanage in Al Ain and their mothers had the right to visit them twice a week.

Currently, many women in this situation choose to keep their children with them in the mother-and-child wing of Al Wathba. And so, many children grow up calling a prison cell home.

As Major Soad Saeed, the head of Dubai prison, told The National: "Providing these children with an appropriate environment is one of our biggest challenges." Some efforts have been made, for example by building playgrounds, but the situation remains dire.

Two other mothers, from the Philippines, were also sentenced this week, to seven months, on similar charges. One of them has a two-year-old boy, and the other has a two-and-a-half-year-old girl.

Such cases need careful handling, with flexibility to reflect the variety of circumstances.

Depending on the infraction, simple deportation can sometimes be a more suitable punishment when innocent children are involved.

After all, it is the interests of the child that matter above all else.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 will run until April 24, 2014. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National.

In pictures: Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2014 opens
at Adnec

Key developments and master plans are being unveiled at this year’s property exhibition in the capital.

 A plane flies overhead with a banner criticising former Manchester United manager David Moyes during United's Premier League match against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on March 29, 2014 in Manchester, England. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Manchester United must now search for the ‘anti-Moyes’

'The requirement is for a manager who does not exhibit any of the failings that made Moyes' reign at Old Trafford so painful' writes Richard Jolly on Manchester United's next managerial hire.

 From left, Mansoor Nabil Abdul Ghafar, Mohammed Al Tamimi and Marwan Nabil Abdul Ghafar, three co-owners of Code CrossFit, Abu Dhabi's first CrossFit gym. Ann Marie McQueen / The National / April 2014

Abu Dhabi gets its first CrossFit gym, Code CrossFit, thanks to four Emirati friends

Four Emirati friends have joined forces to open Abu Dhabi's first CrossFit gym, Code CrossFit.

 Salil Ankola, left, and Achint Kaur in a scene from the Hindi film Riwayat (2012). Courtesy Riwayat

The love affair between cricket and cinema in India

We take a look at cricketers who struck gold on the pitch before venturing into Bollywood. Did their success carry over to the silver screen?

 Former Manchester United manager David Moyes, right, speaks to Manchester United's Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs during a training session at the team's Carrington training complex in Manchester, north-west England on April 22, 2014. Andrew Yates / AFP

Giggs a better fit for Manchester United than Moyes

The winger, who has played 962 games for the club, has been placed in interim charge of the first team and will be assisted by his former Manchester United teammate Nicky Butt.

 One of the 21 duplex penthouses located in the curved sky-bridge at Gate Towers, spanning approximately 300 metres across three towers. Courtesy Aldar

Gate Towers Penthouse Collection on Reem Island launched by Aldar

The 21 duplex penthouses, which are located in the curved sky-bridge and feature private indoor pools and views of the city, were launched at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National