DUBAI // Families, victims and witnesses were urged yesterday to be less reluctant in reporting sex-related crimes, which Dubai police revealed increased by 29 per cent last year over 2009.
Delays in contacting the police help attackers to evade justice, especially in cases involving children, said Lt Col Ahmed al Muhairi, the director of the force’s Forensics Department.
“We had a family report a sex assault on a minor two months after it took place. We were not able to find evidence that would have helped to catch the assailant,” he said.
In another investigation, a family delayed for nine weeks before reporting an assault on their four-year-old daughter on a school bus.
The number of sex-related crimes reported in Dubai rose from 391 in 2009 to 504 last year. Justin Thomas, a psychologist and assistant professor in department of natural science and public health at Zayed University, said it was hard to establish whether there had been an increase in such crimes, or an increase in detection.
“The sensible thing is to look at both angles,” he said. “Another area to look at is the demographics of age. If the key age is between 20 and 25 and you have a much bigger percentage of that age group here, that could explain the increase.”
Dr Rima Sabban, a sociologist at Zayed University, said last year that the “traditional” nature of the legal system sometimes dissuaded women from reporting sex crimes, which created a barrier for the police in trying to prevent them.
“The view of women in the legal system here is still traditional,” she said. “So if a woman is raped, they believe that she did somethingto trigger the rape and look at her as someone who had sex out of wedlock, rather than as a victim.”
The Dubai Women and Children’s Foundation, which assists victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, declined to comment.
The number of murders in Dubai fell significantly last year, from 34 in 2009 to 23 in 2010, according to police statistics. The number of criminal cases involving bodily harm increased from 1,896 in 2009 to 1,959 last year, but the number of suspicious deaths fell from 1,256 to 1,429, Lt Col al Muhairi said yesterday.
“I have seen an increase in the criminal courts with violent crimes such as rape and murder,” a senior judge in the Dubai courts said. “When we first became judges, we used to compete to get the big crime cases, but now in our circuits they have become the norm.”
The Dubai Chief of Police, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan, said this year that the force successfully fought serious crime in the emirate by implementing new security programmes, intensifying police patrols and equipping staff with latest technology.
More CCTV cameras and a greater presence online made it easier for police to track crimes, he said.
“The development of the forensic technology at Dubai police and the use of DNA-based tests increased our ability to solve complicated and sophisticated crimes,” Lt Col al Muhairi said.
For example, DNA testing had helped to identify the bodies of two UPS pilots whose plane crashed in September 2010.
“We were able through DNA testing to identify the pilot and co-pilot, whose bodies were incinerated in the crash.
“This helped their families get closure,” he said.