x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Domestic violence study largest of its kind

More than 2,000 households across all seven emirates are expected to take part in survey, which is expected to uncover the extent of domestic violence in the country.

DUBAI // Work has begun on the biggest study yet of domestic abuse and violence against children.

More than 2,000 households across all seven emirates are expected to take part in the survey by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.

"It's a one-of-a-kind project," said Dr Mona al Bahar, deputy chief executive officer for care and community services.

The foundation contacted the United Nation's International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, which is running a global survey on the subject.

"The UAE has to be a part of the study," said Dr al Bahar. "We're doing this for the sake of the UAE, and to make family units - which form the basis of our society - and society as a whole in the UAE even stronger."

The foundation has adapted the original survey, making it more culturally relevant by using Arabic terms and concepts that will be better understood by participants.

The survey has already been conducted in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, but researchers in those countries used direct translations of the original.

Dr Fadwa al Mughraibi, chair of pyschology and counselling at United Arab Emirates University, said the results would help to ensure "that children can be raised to contribute positively to, and progress in, the UAE. We'll be able to help their parents to achieve that."

The foundation has set up a committee to oversee the survey, which is co-ordinating its work with the Ministry of Interior. Doctoral researchers within the ministry and students at UAEU and Zayed University will help to find participants. "We'll train those asking the questions too," Dr al Bahar said.

A pilot survey will be run in September, and any necessary amendments made before work begins in earnest.

The project still needs funding, though. “We’re seeking out grant funding from progressive organisations to help us to carry out the research,” said Dr al Bahar.

Isphana al Khatib, director of Al Noor Centre for children with special needs, said the survey would “definitely be a good thing”.

“It sends a very positive message that the government are giving their backing for an area that has been behind the curtains and under-surveyed in the past,” she said.

“The initiative can shed a spotlight and see to what extent [domestic violence] is prevalent in the community”.

Children with special needs were also subject to violence, she said. “Our own population is vulnerable and in need of assistance, but we do teach our children to be alert to care-givers and how to be safe.”

Ghalia Gargani, a research associate on the Dubai School of Government’s gender and public policy programme, said it was “great to see critical issues being addressed and such projects being spearheaded by UAE institutions such as the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children”.

She was pleased the study had been tailored to the UAE, which she said would “help to guarantee that results are accurate and representative”.