UAE schools ‘need to teach meaning of consent’

Ignorance about rape and sexual assault needs to be addressed through better education, say experts.

Powered by automated translation

In this series:

Call for better support for UAE rape victims

Rape victims should show faith in UAE legal system

'Safe environment first' say UK and US rape guidelines

DUBAI // What constitutes rape and what defines a sexual assault?

These are issues about which people need to be educated about, according to Amna Al Mutawa, a counsellor at Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.

The foundation has been doing so through workshops and seminars at universities, workplaces and community centres to raise public awareness, said Ms Al Mutawa.

Dr Deema Sihweil, a clinical psychologist at the Carbone Clinic in Dubai, agrees that education about sexual attacks is lacking in the UAE even though it is a vital tool in preventing them.

“All parts of society must be educated around the real nature of rape … no one asks for it, and it is not uncommon,” she said.

Sexual assault victims may be psychologically injured for a long time after the crime, resulting in traumas such as sleep disorders, self-harm, depression and flashbacks if they are not given adequate support.

A lingering social stigma prevents many victims from reporting their attack to police and receiving help.

“When a victim’s physical and psychological safety, dignity and sense of control are violated … the fear that ensues can be debilitating,” said Dr Sihweil.

“Expecting rape victims to come forward with the crime is like expecting someone who has been shot by a gun to stand up and keep walking.”

As long as ignorance about rape prevailed in society, victims would be left on their own to survive and try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life, she said.

“There is way too much stigma around what rape is. Too many perpetrators are getting away with committing this crime.”