Established in 2007, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) is the UAE’s first licensed non-profit shelter that runs specifically for the care of women and children. It offers immediate protection and support services for women and children who fall victim to domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking, as well as providing high-quality services by a multi-disciplinary team in accordance with international human rights obligations.
At DFWAC, our vision is to create a society free of violence against women and children in Dubai, as well as to end violence and abuse against women and children through activating the role of prevention and providing safe shelter, care and rehabilitation services in accordance with recognized international standards.
The DFWAC’s strategic goals rest on three key pillars:
• Care, Rehabilitation and empowerment
• Capabilities and innovation
At DFWAC, we are committed to international values such as confidentiality and privacy, equality, integrative and participatory, professionalism and responsibility, innovation and excellence. The foundation has developed well-thought-out strategic plans, forged strong partnerships with international and local entities, and continued to work closely with both governmental and non-governmental organizations. All these efforts and partnerships are have been made to mainly support, serve, and empower our clients.
The DFWAC has taken an obligation and responsibility to serve and protect victimized women, children, and families by providing complementary services to help them overcome their stressors, issues and other traumas. Our services are all free and accessible to our valued clients. Here are some of the services being offered to empower women and children:
• Safe shelter supervised by the Housemother who is available 24/7.
• Residential case manager, who is also available around the clock to provide social, psychological and administrative support.
• Call Center (helpline 800111) that operates 24/7.
• Free legal services including legal support and guidance and referral to competent legal authorities.
• Medical and health services in collaboration with Dubai Health Authority and Ministry of Health.
• Social and psychological services such as psychoeducation, psychotherapy for individuals, couple, family, group, relaxation and play therapy that helps victims who suffered from different psychological stressors such as PTSD.
• Animal Assisted Therapy. Our trained therapists use animals to help clients overcome multiple issues such as grief, loss, marital or family conflicts and other issues.
• Training courses and empowerment program covering language, IT and secretarial, culinary, tailoring and other educational and occupational training programmes.
The DFWAC is committed to promoting awareness among community members to prevent and protect the community from violence as well as to strengthen healthy behaviors. Moreover, our community awareness programmes are promoted using the following channels:
• Campaigns and media outreach programmes
• Radio Scripts, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.
• Educational outreach programs and sessions
• Research & reports
The DFWAC has developed an internal auditing system to monitor the progress of work at its departments and we conduct an annual customer satisfaction survey for all served clients, where we collect their feedback to measure their level of satisfaction with the services received. Last year, we crossed the target and achieved a 96% satisfaction rate.
Additionally, the DFWAC has recently faced a number of challenges, and the lockdown during the pandemic (COVID-19) was probably one of the worst, having affected the entire world. In order to effectively deal with the crisis and preserve quality services and productivity, particularly while serving victims, the DFWAC put in place several strategic plans and procedures to cope with the situation. We have taken the following steps to combat the pandemic:
Allocating isolation rooms/villa for clients with flu-like symptoms or are suspected to have COVID-19.
• Opting for a remote work system for some staff. Our staff have remotely provided multiple administrative, legal, social and psychological services through phone calls, emails and virtual programs.
• Dedicating a legal Chamber to allow internal clients to attend remote hearing sessions and investigations.
• Organizing intensive health awareness lectures for DFWAC staff and clients to raise their awareness about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves and others.
Furthermore, the foundation has created an empowerment programme which targeted HT victims during the pandemic to provide them with the required skills and professional training. The program’s goals include:
• Supporting victims psychologically and enhancing their self-confidence, self-worth and self-actualization.
• Supporting victims’ financial independence.
• Breaking the cycle of violence.
• Building and improving talents to help them get a job.
• Rehabilitating and re-integrating victims into the community.
Overall, the foundation has made innumerable and extensive efforts all around the world. In a short time, it exceptionally managed and dealt with a large number of internal and external clients, offering them high-quality services. The DFWAC has also played a pivotal role in safeguarding and empowering abused women and children, and today, it has taken it upon itself to educate staff members of various shelters about its principles and values.
Awareness and Community Service Department Initiatives
The Awareness and Community Service Department is responsible for enhancing public awareness about different social topics related to violence against women and children through a series of programmes, campaigns, symposiums and lectures, educational activities held in schools and universities, and shared on social media platforms.
Meanwhile, the Communication Department receives local and international delegations wishing to exchange knowledge and experience with the foundation with regards to its efforts in protecting and caring for victims. The Research and Studies section is also tasked with preparing reports, conducting studies and research, and setting recommendations to help develop programmes and policies.
Domestic Violence Campaign during the Pandemic In conjunction with the National Sterilization Programme, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children launched a mini virtual campaign entitled “National Stay at Home” in March and April of 2020. The foundation posted awareness leaflets on its social media platforms that explained how to deal with cases of violence against women and children. The online campaign also focused on:
How to protect yourself from domestic violence during the pandemic?
How to keep children safe at home during the pandemic
Safe exit from the house in case of danger.
Indications that increase domestic violence.
How to avoid stress and tensions?
How to communicate with relevant authorities for relevant assistance?
Educational Advice Campaign in the Pandemic
The DFWAC launched in March and April 2020 an awareness campaign on how to deal with the stress and pressure on children during the pandemic. A series of educational advice has been posted on all of the foundation’s social media platforms, and Zayed University in Dubai has also republished the content on its social media platforms.
Justice and Women’s Issues Forum
The DFWAC organized a forum in 2021 on “Justice and Women’s Issues” bringing together a number of legal, community, and security experts. The event discussed the reality of women’s issues in Dubai courts, and how to hasten the decision-making process on women’s issues. The discussion covered a range of topics, including family and women’s law, the role of security agencies in resolving women’s concerns, and the role played by the foundation in supporting women’s issues, among others.
Awareness workshops and lectures
The foundation has organised a series of virtual lectures, seminars, and events to raise community awareness of family and child safety issues:
Virtual Workshops and Lectures in English
• “Intimate Partner Violence” lecture for international brand staff Yves Saint Laurent Beauty (65 beneficiaries).
• “Intimate Partner Violence” lecture in collaboration with YSL. The lecture targeted university students at the American University of Dubai and the American University of the UAE, (47 beneficiaries).
• “Indicators of Child Abuse” lecture targeted parents in three different sectors: Leviton Middle East and Africa, Hemelaya Wellens and VMentor Academy, (85 beneficiaries).
• “Support System for Violent Women” lecture for Body Shop staff, (55 beneficiaries).
Virtual workshops and lectures in Arabic
• Three workshops for adults were organized under the theme “Children’s rights from a psychological and social perspective” (191 beneficiaries).
• Seven workshops for adults were carried out under the theme “Balance in Life” (356 beneficiaries).
• Five workshops entitled “Controlling feelings and emotions”, were implemented for adults (209 beneficiaries).
• One workshop entitled “Child Abuse” was organized for adults (42 beneficiaries).
Most Vulnerable Groups to Human Trafficking Programme
The DFWAC launched an integrated awareness programme titled “Raising the Awareness of the Most Vulnerable Groups to Human Trafficking” in 2015 and is still running today. The programme was approved by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking to enhance the awareness of the most vulnerable groups to trafficking such as women in beauty salons, waitresses in restaurants, workers in massage centres, and domestic workers and educate them about the dangers of human trafficking. The program heightened the target audience’s awareness through:
• Brochures and flyers in 10 languages (Arabic -English – Indonesian – Bengali – Russian – Urdu – Filipino – Chinese – Amharic – Hindi).
• Posters in English, Chinese and Urdu languages were placed in residential areas of workers, areas of services required by the category.
• Ten radio snippets were broadcast in English, Arabic and Urdu language for two years five times a week in the morning and evening periods with different radio channels.
• Radio snippets in Chinese have been produced, and arrangements are being made for their airing with Chinese radio stations in the UAE.
• Organised a workshop and training for both (vulnerable groups and diplomats).
Furthermore, the DFWAC launches an annual media campaign on July 30th in conjunction with the International Day for Combating Trafficking in Persons on its social media platforms. In 2021, the foundation’s campaign focused on child exploitation, especially sexual exploitation and forced labour in the labour market. DFWAC also published three awareness videos to call attention to the dangers of child exploitation and its health, social, and educational implications for children’s lives in the future. Additionally, DFWAC took part in the global Blue Heart campaign, and press releases were published across all media in Arabic and English.
Indian Consulate Training
In the second quarter of 2021, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children held three specialised training courses targeting 52 representatives from various labour sectors. The courses took place at the Indian Consulate in the presence of consular labor officials, as well as members of the embassy staff and representatives from different sectors in the country. The training courses touched on the case management model and social session structures. Furthermore, the trainees were also provided with all educational materials (written, audio and visual), a copy of the awareness brochure in Hindi and posters in both Arabic and English.
Through the foundation’s partnership with Zayed University, college students were once again made aware of domestic workers. The University agreed to organize a lecture on September 27, 2021, for female students to explain the human trafficking crime, the victims’ rights outlined in protocol and law. The lecture aimed to encourage female students to educate domestic workers who are the most vulnerable and difficult to reach.
Additionally, a club was set up featuring many female students who were keen to raise awareness and motivate female students at the university to take part in and help organise the future events that we will carry out. Furthermore, a link was created to register female students wishing to educate domestic workers to provide them with brochures in the language they understand.
Indonesian Consulate Training
We coordinated with the Indonesian Consulate to promote awareness within the Indonesian community in the country, especially among the most vulnerable groups. The meeting was attended by two consuls and eight consulate staff, where they were briefed on the role of the foundation, especially with regard to protecting human trafficking victims.
A specialised training course was implemented on case management model and social session structure, psychological services and approaches, awareness program targeting the most vulnerable groups to human trafficking and the available educational means. As many as 50 awareness brochures were given to be distributed to the community.