The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children has tailored free programmes and services not only to provide care and rehabilitation for victims of abuses and trafficking, but also to empower them.
By Henri Abenis – Macahilo
In its Human Rights Reports, the US State Department has recognised that the UAE government, in coordination with social organisations, has sought to increase people’s awareness on domestic violence.
It also made mention of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC), the UAE’s first licensed non-profit shelter and its role in the country’s increased awareness on domestic violence.
Since its inception in July 2007 by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, DFWAC has been helping thousands of women and children victims of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking.
The DFWAC has tailored free programmes and services not only to provide care and rehabilitation for victims of abuses, but also to empower them by giving safe accommodation, health, social, psychological, recreational, case empowerment, and legal services.
Safe Accommodation Services
The foundation provides shelter services for emergency cases referred by various authorities, wherein a client’s safety is threatened. The services include temporary housing with a round-the-clock supervision of an integrated working team, food, drink, clothing, transportation, and others.
All victims residing in its shelters are given free health services, in cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority and the Ministry of Health and Prevention. An in-house nurse is delegated by the Dubai Health Authority to treat and follow up cases, organise clients’ appointments with clinics and hospitals, supervise the dispensing of medicines, and organise awareness workshops on public health.
DFWAC provides an integrated set of social services with the help of a social worker or case manager, to provide appropriate social support according to the victim’s needs and aspirations. Case managers conduct social case studies and develop support plans for the victims and provide all sources of support, including referral to competent authorities and coordination with relevant authorities for provision of material support. Case managers also carry out mediation for family reunification, treatment of family disruption, home visits, school visits, attendance at court, and facilitate citizenship and residency procedures.
Victims who have been subjected to violence suffer symptoms of impaired mental health like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which negatively affect their personal and family activities, educational and professional abilities. The foundation’s psychological services provide treatment services that were designed according to the needs of the victims, such as mental health examination and psychological evaluation, individual therapy, group therapy, counseling, play therapy for children, and empowerment group therapy for adults.
Recreational Activities Services and Case Empowerment Programme
Dubai Foundation for Women and Children provides a range of educational, recreational and professional activities and empowerment programs to help alleviate the psychological pressures of the cases through various targeted activities that are periodically organised. The case empowerment programme aids in the rehabilitation of battered women and their reintegration into society, develops their previous skills and instills new skills to improve their lives and encourage them to be independent. Some of the activities are Arabic language courses, computer courses, and craft workshops in sewing, hand embroidery, engraving, henna tattooing, perfumes and Dakhon making.
The foundation’s legal advice service supports and educates victims in communicating with legal and judicial authorities in the country; informing them of their legal rights and the correct legal procedures in filing lawsuits and reports, in partnership with a law firm that could also provide legal representations in the court.
Other Programmes and Services
DFWC has recently launched Animal Assisted therapy programme to help victims of violence and exploitation overcome trauma.
Animal Assisted therapy is a unique approach that can replace or even complete the traditional psychotherapy sessions. It incorporates animals such as horses, dogs, rabbits, fish, and birds into the psychotherapy process to improve people’s social performance psychological and adaptive functioning especially after going through strong trauma or negative experience.
“This programme targets the clients of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children that are victims of violence, exploitation. Especially the critical cases that shows symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or any psychiatric symptoms related to anxiety and depression,” said Sheikha Saeed Al Mansouri, DFWC Acting Director General in her speech during the programme launch at Expo 2020 Dubai last November.
The foundation’s 800111 hotline service is open to all callers regardless of race, religion, language, nationality and other differences. The call centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is specialised in receiving customer reports and communications. The dedicated line also provides a referral service for external clients. All calls made to the hotline service are treated with utmost care and confidentiality.
Foundation with a Vision
Following Sheikh Mohammed’s vision of building a community with stronger bonds for life, officials and staff at DFWAC have dedicated themselves to create strategies and plans to provide excellent services to the women and children in the UAE and continue to raise the awareness of the community of the impact of domestic violence and other forms of abuses through partnerships and collaborations.
“DFWAC’s door is always open for women and children who are suffering from all forms of abuse and violence, because we believe that violence must not be tolerated, therefore, we aim at creating a community free of violence that preserve everyone’s dignity and safety,” said Sheikha Saeed Al Mansouri.
“We are very fortunate and grateful for the partnerships we have built across all sectors and we owe our successes to these collaborations as social work, community awareness and these partnerships always go hand in hand for a community to thrive.”
Henri Abenis-Macahilo is the editor-in-chief of Rights Corridor. She is also the UAE bureau chief of Philippine-based news portal, NewsLinePH.