x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Domestic violence cases increase by more than a third

Last year, Dubai Police received 102 complaints of domestic abuse, compared with 70 in 2009 - an increase of 45 per cent.

DUBAI // Police are giving special training to 27 female officers in a bid to handle the sharp increase in domestic violence that was announced yesterday.

At present almost all domestic violence crimes are investigated by male officers. However, Lt Col Jamal al Jallaf, the deputy director general of Criminal Investigations for Management Affairs with Dubai Police, said that having specialised female investigators would "increase the trust between police and victims".

Last year, Dubai Police received 102 complaints of domestic abuse, compared with 70 in 2009 - an increase of 45 per cent.

Lt Col al Jallaf said that female officers would allow the force to better handle this growing number of cases. "They will pay visits to the victims at home rather than having them come to the police station. Having female investigators to deal with such cases is important in the context of our traditional society," he said.

The special training is expected to end next week and shortly after the officers will be deployed to work at various police stations across the emirate.

Dubai Police attributed the increase in domestic violence cases to better public awareness, as well as increased awareness among law enforcement authorities.

The fact it is no longer seen as something that should be dealt with within the family also played a role, Lt Col al Jallaf said.

“More people are reporting such crimes and at the same time police officers have also become aware that certain types of abuse are not an internal family affair but a crime in which action needs to be taken,” he said.

Afra al Basti, the executive director at the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children – which was opened in 2007 following a decree issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – said: “Although it is really difficult to estimate the real figure, as nobody knows what happens between families, there is definitely an increase in the number of people seeking help.

“There is increased community awareness and more people are starting to understand that domestic violence is unacceptable, and thus reporting it.”

In the past, cases of domestic violence have been referred to a social and family affairs office in a police station. Many of the cases were resolved amicably with the aim of maintaining family ties and avoiding the break-up of families, Lt Col al Jallaf said. “However, cases of physical abuse are taken seriously and are referred to court,” he added.

The majority of cases arise from disputes within Asian and Arab families, and involve violence not only between spouses but also children and siblings, police records show.

The majority of the victims are women and children, according to Lt Col al Jallaf.

One case reported last year involved a woman who worked as a border post employee, who was abused by her brother after she refused to help him smuggle illegal items into the country.

“He had prevented her from reporting to work for about two months and that led to the loss of her job,” Lt Col al Jallaf said. “But we immediately intervened, provided help and even explained her situation to her employee, and she was able to get back her job.”

He added: “Dubai Police is giving child abuse cases priority because they are the weakest category and are unable to protect themselves. Child abuse cases are dealt with very strictly.”

Schools also play an important role in identifying children who have possibly been abused. Indeed, several of last year’s cases were results of tip-offs from concerned school staff.

Dubai Police stressed that they had also received a number of cases from men complaining of abuse at the hands of their wives.