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Sharjah: Authorities in Sharjah have charged an Arab mother with assault after she allegedly burnt her twin daughters’ hands with matchsticks, a police official told Gulf News on Tuesday.

The incident came to the attention of police on March 24 after the children’s’ schoolteacher noticed burns marks on the hands of the two seven-year-olds. The girls told their teacher they were burnt by their mother.

The issue was reported to the school social worker, who in turn reported the incident to police and the child protection department.

The social worker took the girls to the hospital for a medical examination and the medical report confirmed the burn marks were indeed from matchsticks.

An investigation was launched and the mother was summoned for questioning, during which she admitted to burning her children as punishment.

She said the children were causing trouble and she warned them if they didn’t stop misbehaving, she would burn them. When the girls refused to heed her warning, their mother snapped and punished them.

An official said the mother could now face legal action under the Wadeema Law.

The UAE government has zero tolerance towards child abuse with stringent laws to protect children in the wake of the Wadeema incident in 2012. Anyone who knows of a case of child abuse but doesn’t report it is also liable for prosecution under the Wadeema Law.

A special team has also been put in place to develop best practices for combating child abuse. Led by the Ministry of Interior, the team has now grown into a department known as the Child Protection Department, who are now investigating this incident.

What is the Wadeema Law?
Named after an eight-year Emirati girl called Wadeema who was tortured to death by her father and his girlfriend in 2012, the law, which came into effect in 2016 seeks to protect every child in the UAE from all forms of abuse, be it physical, verbal or psychological. Part of this law makes it an offence not to report known incidences of child abuse. Those who suspect a child is being abused can call the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Department on 116-111 or the police on 999.