Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

New hotline and support groups to help protect people with disabilities from abuse

A unified national strategy is being developed to support the People of Determination Protection Policy Against Abuse passed by the UAE Cabinet last month

Organising support groups and establishing a hotline to report abuse are some of the proposed plans to prevent the mistreatment of people with disabilities in the UAE.

On Wednesday, government officials said they would put forward a unified national strategy to support a policy that protects people with disabilities.

The People of Determination Protection Policy Against Abuse was passed by the UAE Cabinet last month and addresses abuse prevention, early detection of abuse and intervention and rehabilitation.

The policy defines abuse as physical, psychological, sexual or financial and may be committed deliberately or through negligence and ignorance.

It states that people have an obligation to act where they see the signs of abuse. People who report abuse will be guaranteed protection and methods for reporting abuse will be improved under the new law.

Any reports of suspected abuse or neglect will be dealt with immediately, said Major Saeed Al Shamsi, director of policies department at the Ministry of Interior.

“One of our challenges is to be close to families, to be close to other entities like schools and education centres,” said Maj Al Shamsi. “We want to make sure these entities and families are aware of the law and policies so that they know how to report abuse, they know how to see if their children have been abused and they can transfer concerns to the right entities, like the Ministry of Interior.”

The government has begun a national campaign to raise awareness of rights guaranteed in the law.

Family empowerment through the education of siblings, parents and relatives, and further training for caregivers, self-advocacy groups and authorities are central in the new abuse prevention strategy.

A database of abuse victims and a hotline will also help authorities prevent and detect mistreatment. At least five self-support groups are also expected to be established.

The United Nations recognises national legislation is “fundamental” in promoting the rights of people with disabilities and one of the most effective ways to facilitate social change.

There are 2,300 people with disabilities registered in the UAE, of which nearly two in three are Emirati. The country now has 88 centres catering for people with disabilities staffed by 2,400 people.

“Focusing on [people with disabilities] will enhance the stability of the community and ensure they understand their rights,” said Maj Al Shamsi. “We will make sure as a government entity that they can live their lives.”

The policy recognises the right to exercise knowledge and take calculated risks, the right to linguistic and cultural diversity, and the ability to pursue complaints against disability service providers without fear of discontinuation of the service.

Employment opportunities are critical to integration, said Nasser Ismail, the assistant undersecretary of social care at the Ministry of Community Development.

This week, the Federal National Council heard parents of children with learning disabilities were being priced out of long-term care. Minister of Community Development, Hessa Buhumaid, noted at the time that families of people with disabilities with a monthly salary of Dh5,000 for each child with a disability.

Updated: January 29, 2020 08:22 PM

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