United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates has long supported children's rights and protection. In 2018, Sharjah, a city north of Dubai, was named the first child-friendly city in the Middle East, highlighting the area's commitment to advancing the well-being of children.

2006

Federal Act No. 51 of 2006 is passed, which includes articles for protecting children from human trafficking.

2016

Federal Act No. 3 of 2016 (Wadeema’s Law) is passed, protecting children from different forms of negligence, exploitation, and physical and psychological abuse. The Act goes beyond what is explicitly allowed in the legal code, but continues to recognize the “right” of parents to “discipline” their child.

2017

The National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood 2017-2021 is launched to promote and protect the rights of mothers and children. The Strategic Plan for the Rights of Children with Disabilities 2017-2021 is also launched, which aims to increase the quality of medical care and social services for children with disabilities, among other objectives.

2018

The UAE accepts an explicit recommendation from the Universal Periodic Review to ban corporal punishment in all settings, expressing a political commitment to doing so and stating that “many of the recommendations it had supported had been or were in the process of being implemented.” In May, the UAE officially becomes a pathfinding country.

Several ministries from different sectors collaborate on children’s issues, including health, education, social affairs, and women and children. Civil society organizations, children and families were consulted in the drafting of the National Strategy for Motherhood and Children (2017-2021) and the Strategic Plan for the Rights of Children with Disabilities (2017-2021). These strategies were the first of their kind at the federal level. 

Sharjah has become the region’s first Child-friendly City. The selection of Sharjah was based on a range of criteria, including whether or not children: are treated respectfully and equally by society and authorities; have the right to grow up in a safe, clean environment; have access to basic services; can play, learn and grow; and have space for their voice to be heard and taken seriously. Ever since, there have been consultations with children about the potential of rights-respecting schools.

The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood established a task force composed of multiple ministries, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Protection, Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Community Development, to develop a comprehensive action plan to end violence against children with technical support from UNICEF. The task force is organizing consultations with all federal and local authorities and civil society organizations dealing with children to discuss the framework of the proposed action plan.

The UAE is a member country of the WeProtect Global Alliance and is dedicated to ending child online sexual exploitation. It is also a member of the League of Arab States, which has made regional efforts to end violence against children through its Steering Committee on Violence against Children.

The Ministry of Information tracks information on “crimes against family” and “crimes against persons” within each emirate, but specific prevalence data on violence against children has not been disaggregated.

The Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood has been working on compiling an integrated database on children, including protection from violence and abuse.

As of 2015, the UAE (under the direction of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and with assistance from UNICEF) was granted approval and budgetary resources to conduct a Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS5). However, the results of the UAE’s participation in MICS5 are not currently available.

The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children has collected data related to violence in schools and is expected to launch the findings soon.

The UAE has been very involved in ending violence in schools. Between 2016-2017, a full anti-bullying program was introduced and has now been mainstreamed to all public schools in the UAE. Additionally, in 2018, the Ministry of Education participated in the UNICEF-UNESCO to end violence in schools. The UAE is also a member of the Global Partnership’s Safe to Learn campaign.

The Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood is currently planning to organize a regional training of trainers on the seven INSPIRE strategies, as well as a seminar on best practices of response mechanisms, especially reporting and referral mechanisms.

The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is a civil society organization that offers protection and support services for women and children who face domestic violence, abuse and human trafficking. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children currently conducts child protection community awareness campaigns, operates a helpline service for all residents of Dubai and the UAE, and holds workshops for students, parents, school staff members, and social workers on children’s rights and indicators of abuse. They are also working on conducting research on the prevalence and magnitude of violence against children in the UAE, as well as trends in human trafficking. 

In 2019, End Violence and our partners are working to:

Grow demand

  • By encouraging law reform that prohibits corporal punishment in the home, alternative care settings, daycare and schools.
     
  • By developing a multi-sectoral Road Map that includes core indicators to track the United Arab Emirates' progress towards ending violence against children, which is being done under the leadership of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

Equip practitioners 

  • By working with the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children to launch a data collection project on violence against children in schools.
     
  • By organising a policy dialogue with the Ministry of Education on the Handbook to prevent schools-based violence, working with UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Health Organisation to do so.
     
  • By supporting the translation of INSPIRE into Arabic and developing a capacity-building strategy for the region.