Catalysed by the horrific death of an eight-year-old girl last year due to the unspeakable cruelty of her father, an incident that shocked the country, the issue of child protection rights acquired an expediency they rightly deserved. As a result of this, the UAE’s first Child Rights Law was passed by the Federal National Council on Wednesday.
Expanding the arc of protection to cover just about every aspect of social, emotional, familial, physical and psychological determinants of child welfare, the law speaks in severe tones of the consequences of violating it in any form. From rapid-action initiatives at the micro level — physically removing a child forthwith from a dangerous domestic environment minus judicial endorsement — to larger perils that endanger children in society like neglect, abandonment, organised crime, forced begging, sexual exploitation by predators, to name a few, the law has achieved the seemingly impossible task of covering them all. It also divests itself of religious references in order to attain the highest degree of parity for all children in the UAE, a move that is commendable.
By deliberately pursuing a hard line, the Child Rights Law offers evidence of how serious the UAE is about tackling the scourge of child abuse in its many forms. And in codifying the inviolate precept that a healthy society finds validation only through its ethical pursuit of protecting and respecting its children, the Child Rights Law earns its place as one of the most comprehensive, purposeful and powerful instruments of governance.