Child abuse

Muna Al-Fuzai

Children are vulnerable and can fall victim to physical or verbal harm, especially if family conditions are harsh or insecure. So many governments in the world have issued legal regulations and legislations to protect the little ones.

Kuwait issued law number 21 / 2015 for protecting the rights of the child, such as education, healthcare, housing, culture and protection from assaults. This law protects both healthy children and those with special needs, and has been activated by several agencies, including the ministry of interior, the ministry of social affairs and the ministry of health.

The law also stipulates that children should not be used for work that does not suit their age, travel without the permission of their guardians, or be prevented from seeing either of their parents in the event of divorce. I think the aim of such details in the law is to ensure that no single entity can manipulate a child’s life or their wishes.

The government also established the child protection department of the ministry of health, which launched hotline 147 to report any cases of child abuse. The department has the authority to inform the ministry of the interior and the ministry of social affairs, which have the authority to take measures against perpetrators.

With the issuance of this law, some claimed it encouraged the child to rebel and that spanking might be beneficial for them. But these protesters did not accept the fact that beating a child causes psychologically-devastating damage in the long run, leading them to lose their personality and self-confidence as well. The nature of civil society today has changed from the nature of society 100 years ago.

For example, in the past teachers beating students was normal and acceptable by parents and children, who could not object because they would be exposed to more harm. But this situation has changed today and the child has the right to reject corporal punishment, and beating in schools is forbidden. I agree with this because beating a child is a crime and no one should be allowed to harm a young child for any reason.

Last year, Kuwait accomplished a good achievement by obtaining a prize from the International Child Protection Team of the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) for its efforts to support children’s rights.

I think that raising awareness for children is the right starting point to tackle this global problem, as the child must be aware from the elementary stage of his physical rights and his dignity and that no one has the right to be subjected to abuse, and that there are legal bodies that are ready to help and protect them from aggressors. So the role of the school is very important.

I believe that stricter laws on child abuse must be implemented. In Kuwait, there are multiple expatriate communities of different nationalities, whether Arab or foreign, so I hope that these groups will make their peers aware of this law, because violence is not related to a specific nationality, and this is something that will happen and we need mutual efforts to stop it .

I believe the child law represents an important legal and social event in Kuwait, as the child protection department has the power to transfer complaints which it receives via the hotline directly to the ministry of interior to intervene, as well as maintain the confidentiality of reports, which was not previously possible.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

muna@kuwaittimes.net