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January 11, 2023
The child protection law in the United Arab Emirates is the Federal Law No 3 of 2016, also called Wadeema’s Law. Wadeema’s Law protects the overall rights of the child, including his fundamental rights of life, security and care, family rights, health rights, social rights, and cultural and education rights.
Some of the key rights and protections provided to a child under the Child Protection Law are as follows:
According to Article 7 of the Child Protection Law, every child has the right to life and security and the child’s growth, development and care are to be guaranteed by the State. The child has a right to have a name that is not humiliating to his/her dignity or contrary to religious beliefs and customs under Article 8.
The child also has the right to express his or her opinion freely, which would be in line with his age and maturity, in harmony with public order and morals and with the laws of the country. However, the child should express his opinion within the limits of the law. This is provided under Article 12 of the Child Protection Law.
A child is also prohibited from being employed before the age of fifteen under Article 14 and is guaranteed protection from child pornography in all forms under Article 13 of the Child Protection Law.
Under Article 13 of the Child Protection Law, it is also prohibited to harm a child’s honour or reputation.
The child will be provided family safety within a coherent and cooperative family, with the custodian having the responsibility of raising, caring, guiding and developing the child in the best way under Article 15.
The child is entitled to receive health services under Article 18.
Under Article 21 of the Child Protection Law, it is prohibited to sell tobacco or tobacco products to children, smokes in private or public transportation or indoor places in the presence of a child, sell alcohol to children, or import or trade in materials against the approved specifications for nutrition, food supplies, health or hormonal supplements, etc.
A child should be provided with a standard of living by the State under Article 22 that is sufficient for his physical, mental, psychological and social development.
In case a child does not have a natural family (either temporarily or permanently), he/she shall have the right to receive care either through a foster family or private or public social welfare institutions. These rights of the child under Article 24 are without prejudice to the Personal Laws and on Children of Unknown Parentage.
The child is entitled to participate in recreational, cultural, artistic and scientific programs to obtain knowledge, innovation and means of creativity. However, these programs should be commensurate with his/her age, public morals and order under Article 25.
Games which address a child’s sexual instinct or encourage behaviour contrary to public order or morals or abnormal behaviour are prohibited under Article 26.
Under Article 31 of the Child Protection Law, every child has a right to education and the State must work on achieving equal opportunities for every child.
It is prohibited to endanger the mental, psychological, physical or moral integrity of the child, including abandoning or rejecting the child by the custodian, leaving the child at a care institution without reason, etc. under Article 34. The custodian is also prohibited to expose the child to rejection, homelessness or neglect under Article 35.
Habitual child abuse, exposure to exploitation or sexual abuse, or kidnapping, sale or trafficking are some of the actions which are considered threatening to the child or his physical, mental, psychological or moral integrity and which require his right to protection under Article 33.
Wadeema’s Law is progressive and looks to protect the rights of the children and ensure their safety, protection, health and education.
The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.