The United Arab Emirates has always been committed to the development, nurturing and protection of children, and has zero tolerance for child abuse. The Federal Law 3 of 2016 on Child Rights, also known as Wadeema’s Law, was created to protect the legal rights of all children in the UAE, irrespective of nationality, from birth until the age of 18.
The diverse ethnic fabric of the UAE means that there may be variable interpretations of what abuse is. One of the biggest obstacles to child safety is the idea of ‘not interfering in other people’s personal matters’. However, UAE laws clearly outline that all forms of child abuse are criminal, including physical, verbal, sexual and psychological abuse. Cultural barriers are not an excuse for the community to refrain from safeguarding children.
- Article 274 of the UAE Law No. 3 (1987) Federal Penal Code states that “a person who fails to report a criminal offence is liable to prosecution”.
- Article 42 and 43 of the UAE Law No. 3 (2016) (Wadeema’s Law) states that “teachers, physicians or anyone assigned to protect and care for children and any adult to which child abuse has been disclosed to, are obliged to report any child abuse”.
The Hemayati smart phone app is a free mobile application designed by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to help families provide protection for their children. The Hemayati app is the world’s first comprehensive application for reporting child abuse. The MoI’s toll-free hotline (116 111) is also integrated with this app.
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Interior, more than 20,000 UAE residents have used Hemayati since January 2018. The smart app has been used to report suspected cases of child abuse, seek consultation as well as enquire about child protection services in the UAE.
Meaning “Protect Me”, the Hemayati app helps children have live communication as well as send real-time alerts to their parents when they are in danger. Some of the features of the Hemayati app include:
- Anonymity of the victim
- Anonymity of the person reporting the crime
- Foreigners can report child abuse while outside the UAE
- Filing a police report with details such as age, location, abuse category and condition of the child
The Ministry of Interior has a special team dedicated to fighting child abuse at the Child Protection Centre (CPC). A screen at the CPC receives these police reports filed through the Hemayati app. Employees at the center will review these reports and take the necessary actions.
The Hemayati smart phone app is available on both Apple Store and Google Play.