A horrific video of a little girl being beaten, tortured and abused left Arab Twitter in a state of shock on Wednesday. At first, online users circulated the clip via a hashtag, accusing a domestic worker of assaulting the child in Saudi Arabia. But the fake news didn't last long.
Hours later, the real story behind the harrowing footage emerged after Abu Dhabi police announced they had arrested the girl's mother who was found to be the perpetrator of the assault.
The video, which was shot by the abusive mother, shows the woman beating her daughter, shoving her around, and dragging her by the hair. The little girl is heard screaming and crying throughout the shocking incident.
Initial investigations have revealed that the incident took place after a dispute between the woman and her husband. The mother has been referred to the emirate's public prosecution office and stands to face trial in the case.
*The video of the incident is circulating online but we choose not to share such graphic content in line with ethical standards.
In the wake of the woman's arrest, Abu Dhabi police issued an official statement on the matter, stressing that local authorities have "no tolerance for anyone who harms or mistreats children."
They added that all the necessary measures will be taken against all abusers under the UAE's strict child protection laws.
"We shall not spare or tolerate anyone mistreating or abusing children. Strict actions have to be taken to prevent violence against children in accordance with the UAE law," the statement read.
People continued to raise questions over the incident even after the police statement was issued. Some said the mother is Asian while others claimed she is the child's stepmom but authorities have not issued any confirmation regarding the woman's nationality and have stressed that she is the girl's mother.
People were left shaken by the footage online
Every person who came across the video was left shaken by the little girl's screams and cries for help.
Many assumed the woman beating the child was a domestic worker because of the way she spoke (racism much?). Others accused the mother of deliberately speaking with an accent in a bid to throw off authorities in case the footage went viral — which it later did.
"One of the most difficult things a human being can go through is losing their mother but it's even worse to lose her and her affection while she's alive. I am so sorry little one, this world has become filled with monsters," one tweep wrote.
"Human rights organizations must protect this child," another posted.
Social media users were relieved to hear that the woman has since been arrested and can no longer harm her daughter — at least for now. Others called on authorities to strictly punish the mother for mercilessly beating up her child.
The UAE applies strict child protection laws
The 2016 revised version of the Federal Law - formerly named Wadeema Law - was drafted in the memory of Wadeema, an eight-year-old Emirati girl who was horrifically abused to death in Dubai in 2012.
The law not only protects children under the age of 18 from abuse and neglect but also supports their basic right to education, healthcare, and shelter.
Under the UAE Child Protection Law, excessively disciplining a child is prohibited as is leaving a child unaccompanied by an adult at home, seating a child in the front of the car, and shouting and screaming at the child.
The law applies to anyone who comes in contact with a child, whether it's a parent or a teacher. Violators of the law could potentially face fines as high as 50,000 dirhams ($13,611) as well as up to 10 years in prison in reported cases involving physical or sexual abuse.