Government official calls for UAE-wide law to protect the elderly

Plea to safeguard the rights of the elderly, made on International Day for Older Persons

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A UAE government official has made a fresh call for a nationwide law to be introduced to protect elderly people from the threat of abuse or negligence.

Plans for a binding federal law - covering all seven emirates - to safeguard the rights of older people in the country have been under discussion for several years.

Speaking on the International Day for Older Persons, Azza Sulaiman, a member of the UAE Federal National Council, said he had been pushing for legislation to be brought into force for more than a year.

The FNC member says a law to guide policy across all emirates is required to address concerns such as negligence at the home and cases of abuse at the hands of domestic workers.

“I questioned the then Minister of Community Development during a council session and while she explained the Ministry’s strategy at the time, there is yet to be a law,” she said.

The minister at the time, Najla Mohammed Al Awar, told her the law was under review.

Since then, the UAE has appointed a new Minister of Community Development, Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, and the law is still to be ratified.

“There are many cases of the elderly being abused and taken advantage of by domestic helpers,” the FNC member said.

“Without a law, these cases will only increase.

“Cases of blackmail have been reported by elderly people, especially those living on their own, accusing domestic workers of taking advantage of their health conditions.”

Elderly people are defined as being those aged 60 and over in the UAE.

Over 60s in the UAE receive a monthly income, discounted services and free health care from the government.

While there is support for the elderly in the UAE, families believe dedicated laws would offer protection for them, especially in cases where they are victims of abuse.

Reem Salem says that a domestic helper locked her grandmother in the bedroom for hours and said she wanted her dead.

"I'm not saying that they are all bad. We have an amazing helper now looking after my grandmother when we are all at work but there needs to be a family member present at all times and a law that will make the domestic helper think twice before abusing an elderly person," she said.


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