x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Court jails Indonesian housemaid caught on video beating child

An Indonesian maid who severely beat her employers' child is sentenced to one year in prison, deportation and a Dh2,000 fine.

An Indonesian maid who severely beat her employers' child was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison, followed by deportation, and fined Dh2,000 (US$545) by the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance. According to the parents' testimony, the boy suffered severe fractures and injuries to various parts of the body, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said in a press release. The maid consistently denied having beaten the child.

When they became suspicious, the parents mounted surveillance cameras inside their home to monitor the maid's treatment of their son. The parents, who are Arabic but cannot be identified further, said they discovered the maid "severely" beating the child. They immediately contacted the police, and the woman was arrested after the surveillance video was shown. The judicial department said in its statement that video footage, which was submitted to the public prosecution as evidence, showed the woman beating the toddler on the head with her bare hands. Based on medical reports submitted as evidence, the child suffered a broken arm and collarbone and was left with various scars. The medical report concluded that the injuries "could lead to permanent disability of the child," according to the court documents.

There are no laws on children's rights in the UAE, but the woman was found guilty under the criminal code for abuse. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department recently allowed media coverage in a major child-abuse case that highlighted the Government's resolve to address the issue. On April 26, the Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced the father and stepmother of a nine-year-old girl to 10 years in prison and a fine of Dh160,000 for abusing the child to the point of disability. The sentences were recently reduced by the appeal court to seven years.

The case prompted the Ministry of Social Affairs to call on the Federal National Council to expedite the process of producing a draft child-rights act. The proposed law, in its current state, aims to criminalise child abuse, institutionalise a foster-care system and punish people who witness abuse but fail to report it. It would be the country's first comprehensive child-rights law. The draft has been presented to the FNC but has not yet appeared on its agenda for debate.