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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Awareness about child protection across region is vital ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

UAE Child Protection Law came into effect in June last year

The Child Protection Law covers abuse and criminal negligence of children and took effect in the UAE on June 15 last year.

Informally named Wadeema’s Law – in memory of an eight-year-old Emirati girl tortured to death by her father and his girlfriend – the law specifies that offenders cannot claim ignorance of their victim’s age as their defence.

The law prohibits torturing or harming a child, with offenders facing fines of at least Dh50,000 and imprisonment for committing any act of cruelty that affects a child’s emotional, psychological, mental or moral balance.

Awareness about laws to protect children across the region was key, officials said.

“Having such a law is an opportunity for everyone to increase people’s awareness. It is too early to say what are the challenges we face,” said Hessa Tahlak, consultant in the ministry of community development about the law’s implementation.

In Saudi Arabia too, a child protection law approved in 2014 still required knowledge and understanding from both parents and medical professionals, said Maha Al Muneef, a counsellor with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

“The first step is letting people know about this law, not only the professionals. We are also working very hard on improving the knowledge of the professionals about the benefits of the law, what are the articles and how to implement it,” she said.

“We know that for the first few years from the drafting of the law to implementing, it will take a while before it is 100 per cent implemented on the ground.”