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April 05, 2022
The Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child’s Rights (also known as 'Wadeema’s law' or 'UAE child protection law') was enacted in the UAE to ensure that all children in the UAE, irrespective of whether they are citizens, residents or tourists, are accorded the right to life, education, protection from neglect as well as all forms of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or psychological. According to Article 3 of this Law, the rights of the children are protected without any discrimination as to the origin, sex, home country, religion, social status or disability of any child.
Wadeema’s law essentially aims to protect the physical, mental and emotional psyche of a child against all forms of discrimination and abuse. It applies to all children up to the age of eighteen years and includes provisions that ensure their protection. An instance of child abuse with cause for imminent danger to the child can lead to the child being placed under protective services with childcare specialists. Other instances, which are less severe, can lead to the imposition of regular social service visits to enquire about the welfare of the child. The Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021 (the UAE penal code) also presumes the innocence of the child and thereby states that criminal cases cannot be filed against children who are less than eleven years old at the time of committing such a crime.
The UAE child protection laws have been enacted to ensure that appropriate living standards, right to health and educational rights are guaranteed to all children in the UAE without any discrimination. The Law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, and physical and psychological abuses, and it further imposes the onus on the community, especially physicians, educators, healthcare workers and other members of the society, to mandatorily report instances of child negligence.
There exists a collective social responsibility on all to ensure child protection, and anyone witnessing acts of child abuse should report the same by reaching out to the Child Protection Center established under the Ministry of Interior (MOI) (hotline number 116111). The end goal is to ensure a collaborative approach to building a safer society, ensuring the well-being of children.
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.