x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Law awaits approval

FNC hopes to review federal law after the sumer recess.

There is no federal law defining child abuse, or procedures for counselling or intervention if the perpetrator is a family member.

There are also no national statistics. But in a 2007 survey of more than 500 high school students in Al Ain, 27 per cent said they had been physically abused and 11 per cent said they had been sexually abused. The teenagers most often said a relative or friend had abused them.

A federal law drafted in 2008 would create a national child-protection system. It is awaiting approval from Cabinet. The law must then be reviewed by the FNC before returning to Cabinet.

The FNC member Afra Al Basti, head of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said she hoped to discuss it this year, probably after summer recess.

Anita Akkawi, who studied child protection for her master's at Dubai School of Government, said Dubai's policy was a good start.

"Having it at local level, maybe from a research perspective, is not too bad," Ms Akkawi said. "But if you want to implement a law you can't look at it from a local perspective, especially because this is a federation."

* Vivian Nereim