x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Judicial department campaigns against violence at home

The aim is to spread awareness through advertisements about the consequences of issues such as child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse and divorce.

Does this father make for a happy family? He's in a scene from a video shown as part of an awareness campaign.
Does this father make for a happy family? He's in a scene from a video shown as part of an awareness campaign.

ABU DHABI // A boy is lying on his bed and reading a children's magazine. He jumps up and runs into the next room after hearing a loud noise. The source? His older brother, who is playing violent computer games. He continues to his sister's room and finds her watching a horror film. Outside, his parents are fighting.

The images and their theme - "Violence begins at home" - flesh out the message of a video shown during Ramadan as part of an awareness campaign launched by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. The aim is to spread awareness about the consequences of issues such as child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse and divorce. Shadi Haggag, an Egyptian father of two, said he had seen a couple of the adverts while having iftar with his family.

"I like the fact they do not depend on dialogue. They just show you what will happen if you do a certain thing," he said. He said most people were aware of the consequences of drug abuse, for example, but not that divorce might be even more destructive. "My favourite video is the one that shows you two scenarios of what happens when a father comes to the house. One scene shows the whole family is scared of him, and then shows him shouting at everyone," Mr Haggag said.

"The other scene shows the whole family running towards him, and he speaks to them with love and gives them gifts. The latter one is obviously the better father." Another video shows a happy family. Parents, children and grandparents sit together, talking and laughing. The video then shows the children's father in a courtroom with the judge announcing his verdict: life imprisonment with hard labour. It concludes: "Drugs are a catastrophe, for you and your family."

Officials at the department say nurturing a friendly environment for children at home is key in reducing the load on the court system. The purpose, however, is to defuse disputes with awareness. "We focus on family because the family is the basis of a better society," said Jaafar Alhashimi, a media officer at the department who produces the videos. Mr Alhashimi said the department wanted to take advantage of family gatherings during Ramadan to deliver crucial messages.

"This is part of the department's social responsibility. Raising awareness about these issues will definitely have an impact about the number of cases filed in courts," he said. Mr Alhashimi said the campaign would continue after Eid and would focus on children, educating them about legal issues and respecting the country's culture. "We believe that ignorance is the reason behind most [court] cases," he said. "Many people are not aware of the consequences of what they do. Many also are not aware that what they do is wrong in the first place."

@Email:hhassan@thenational.ae