Child Abuse in the Arab World

By: Maram Mohammed


Many parents think discipline means violence, that in order to discipline your kid, you must beat them black and blue. What they don’t know is, they are raising a mentally scarred kid, who hardly has any energy left. Abusing children result in violent outbursts and reactions from them later on, as well as them recognizing violence as the norm.

In Westernized countries, child abuse simply means jail. A child can freely report their parents if he/she experiences any domestic violence or physical abuse. The big problem is, that this policy isn’t imposed in the Arab world. As a matter of fact, kids mostly don’t get to say anything. Their parents get to do whatever their heart desires without anyone accounting them as guilty. Children are hardly protected from abuse and that needs to stop.

What I think initiates the whole phenomenon of abuse is that Arab parents aren’t always able to differentiate between discipline and abuse. Therefore I’ve collected what the experts consider as abuse and it is as follows:

1) Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. •Physical abuse involves non-accidental harming of a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking bones.

•Verbal abuse involves harming a child by, for example, belittling them or threatening physical or sexual acts.

•Emotional trauma can result from several forms of abuse.

2) Hitting a child with a closed hand or fist anywhere on the body, hitting the face or head in any way, and using an object to hit is considered as abuse.  It’s recommended to use alternative methods of discipline rather than any type of physical punishment due to difficulty determining the fine line that separates abuse from mild punishment. Oftentimes mild punishment, especially out of anger, can escalate out of control, which leads to abuse.  One study found “some 70% of child abuse cases were attempts to discipline through the use of physical punishment that escalated out of control”. (Kadushin & Martin; Straus).

3)  In addition to physical punishment, yelling, name calling, and put downs are considered verbal abuse/emotional abuse.

4) Deprivation of any kind (food, water, sleep, outdoors) are considered torture.

5) Child Neglect is also considered abuse. It can be physical or emotional. Physical neglect, such as withholding food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities. Emotional neglect includes withholding love or comfort or affection. Medical neglect occurs when medical care is withheld.

In the UAE, the government has a zero tolerance to child abuse with stringent laws to prevent and combat this menace. In fact, the UAE has gone a step ahead and mandated that anyone who is aware of a case of child abuse and does not report it is also liable for prosecution. – Claimed Gulf News.

If that’s the case in every Arab country, it will be the starting point of our evolvement. Children need to be protected, even from their own parents. Child abuse is a shadow crime that we need to be aware of all the time.