Tackling violence against women is a challenging issue for countries around the world. Cases of domestic abuse usually happen in private and don’t necessarily present themselves to the outside world, making them very difficult to deal with.
Thus it is essential to create an environment that encourages women themselves to come forward and report cases of abuse. And this is why organisations, such as Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, are very much needed. As The National reported yesterday, the foundation is providing shelter for women of all nationalities who have experienced physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking. Last year alone, their helpline received 3,461 calls, of which 935 involved requests for help and advice.
These shelters are very important in sensitive cases in which family members are involved or in cases that have legal implications. It’s also critical that these women are given the assistance they need to find jobs.
Empowering women will help break the silence on these issues. In the past, women would keep quiet to avoid shaming their relatives or out of fear of social stigma and a lack of family support. But nowadays, more women are aware of their rights and know that they will find the appropriate support.
This could explain the rising number of reported cases in the UAE, which indicates a rather positive change of direction. It is vitally important that women feel they can come forward for advice; some may not even be fully aware that they have been abused, and will just want to talk. That, too, is a crucial service, and it is essential that it is conducted in privacy. Particularly in a conservative society, accusations against family members or those in a similar social circle can be explosive.
Women’s empowerment is a long process that requires a holistic framework. Women need to feel protected by both the legal system and the community. They need to be empowered enough to break the social barriers that prevent them speaking out against any form of abuse. These shelters can be the only hope for many women to start a new life.