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Safe refuge for abused women

Abu Dhabi sets up its first shelter for women and children who suffer domestic violence and other forms of abuse.

ABU DHABI // Women and children who suffer violence and other forms of abuse at home will have somewhere to seek refuge, in the shape of a safe shelter in Abu Dhabi, the first of its kind in the emirate. Instructions for setting up the centre in co-ordination with the Family Development Foundation were issued by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, in his capacity as chairman of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, the state news agency, WAM, reported yesterday.

The shelter will offer health care and psychological support to victims of domestic violence and provide legal counselling to help them prosecute their abusers. It will attempt to discover the extent of the problem in the emirate by compiling statistics, and identify ways in which the system may be failing victims and discouraging them from reporting abuse to the authorities. There are plans to set up a safe channel of communication to allow abused women and children to lodge complaints about risks they face within the family.

The centre will also conduct awareness campaigns to educate women and children about their rights and how to defend them as well as giving the victims a platform for exchanging experiences and building their ability to confront abuse. The shelter is part of the ADJD's plan to tackle social issues that could be a source of violence and crime, WAM reported. Abu Dhabi also offers Ewaa Shelters for Women and Children, which opened in January and can accommodate up to 30 women and girls. The centre is aimed at mainly victims of trafficking, but is also expected to provide for women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence. Ewaa's creation was announced last year and supported by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, who is the FDF's chairwoman.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, provided the annual budget for the government-affiliated shelter, which falls under the UAE Red Crescent Authority. Dubai offers the Dubai Women and Children's Foundation, set up in 2007 through a decree issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to aid trafficked women and victims of domestic violence.

tspender@thenational.ae With additional reporting by Zoi Constantine

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