Dubai Police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Dubai Police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022, more than double the number of cases reported the year before.

The force said it received 243 cases in 2021.

Maj Gen Mohammad Al Murr, the director of the Women and Children Protection Department, said people were now more aware, which led to an increase in the number of cases being reported.

“There is awareness in society about the importance of seeking help if a child is facing abuse. It is because of many campaigns and initiatives launched by the department,” he said.

“The UAE law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses.”

The cases were filed for assault, negligence and failure to provide identity documents.

Abusers are often known to children

The force said most abusers were either immediate family members or close relatives and children were often too intimidated to report them.

Of the cases, 101 involved the father, 50 by the mother, 25 by the stepfather, 99 cases involved both parents, 60 were caused by other family members, 102 by a known person, 83 by friends and 19 by school staff members.

“The cases were reported for physical abuse, depriving children of identity documents and educational rights, negligence and leaving them unattended,” said Maj Gen Al Murr.

He said some people came personally asking for help, while others used the police website and app. They also reached out to the child protection services of the Ministry of Interior and Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.

Maj Gen Al Murr said 38 cases were settled after parents or guardians signed a legal pledge to take care of their children. More severe cases were referred to prosecutors.

“All children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services and education without discrimination,” he said.

Police were given greater powers of arrest in 2016 under revamped child protection laws after an eight-year-old Emirati girl was tortured to death by her father and his girlfriend.

The first prosecution under Wadeema’s Law, named after the victim, came five months later when an unemployed father refused to grant his children official documents.

In November 2019, the Ministry of Education further bolstered services by launching a specialist Child Protection Unit.

It comprises trained experts who can intervene in cases involving children deemed at risk of abuse. They also offer support to families and provide education and rehabilitation.

Lt Col Ali Mohammed Al Matrooshi, director of child and women protection at Dubai Police’s General Department of Human Rights, said most of the reports last year involved children aged between 11 and 18.

“Cases are being reported and resolved and 103 cases were found not to be true,” he said.

He said some cases were reported when arguing parents did not get identity documents for their children.

“The law says the child will get the nationality of his father. Some parents neglect to issue identity documents because of family problems. We managed to solve some cases and provided the child with documents and IDs,” he said.

Lt Col Al Matrooshi said many cases were reported after children were left unattended in public areas, playgrounds, parks and homes.

He recalled an incident involving a four-year-old boy left alone by his mother at home.

“The neighbours called the police after they heard a child crying for more than one hour,” he said.

The mother arrived 40 minutes after the police contacted her and opened the door.

“She said she went to work and there was nobody to look after the child,” he said. A case of negligence was filed against her and is pending a verdict.

Emirati Children’s Day coincided with the launch of Wadeema Law — in pictures

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Little ones play in the Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi. Emirati Children’s Day is marked annually on March 15. All photos: Victor Besa / The National

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Children ride their scooters in the Umm Al Emarat Park.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

A small child waves and smiles for the camera.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Emirati Children’s Day coincides with the launch of the Wadeema Law and aims to raise awareness about children’s rights and welfare.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Emirati families celebrate Children’s Day on March 15.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Children ride a toy train in Umm Al Emarat Park.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

A Korean family spends the day in the park.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

A child rides his scooter in Umm Al Emarat Park.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

Two Emirati boys play on their tablet.

dubai police responded to 539 cases of child abuse in 2022

An Emirati family spends the morning in Umm Al Emarat Park.

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