Almost half of sexual assault crimes in Dubai are committed against children, leading lawyers to call for harsher sentences for offenders, while experts say sex education would help youngsters know how report abuse.
In the past four years, Dubai Criminal Court has heard almost 500 sex assaults cases, of which the victims were children in 240 of them.
Dr Fawzia Al Suwaidi, who holds a PhD in child psychology, said that children who are abused suffer from nightmares, sleep problems, isolation, mood swings and a lack of self-esteem. Their school results and social skills may also suffer.
“Parents must educate their children about this topic and communicate with them more often to create a base of trust, enabling the child to inform his parents any incident,” she said.
Yousef Al Bahar, a lawyer from Al Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants, called for a change in the law so that those convicted of sex assaults against children receive longer sentences.
He also said that in most cases he’d seen in court, the children involved were not aware of their bodies and did not have a healthy form of dialogue with their families.
“Most of these kids were lured by lies such as you are like my daughter or son and I touch you like I touch my daughter or son,” Mr Al Bahar said.
“If we teach our kids what the areas of their bodies that are off-limits are, they would be able to defend themselves in such situations and they won’t hesitate to tell if there is something wrong.”