The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is dedicated to achieving its efforts to promote fundamental human rights. These efforts are in alignment with the Federation’s identify and unique distinctiveness, and in cooperation with both non-governmental (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) in relation to human rights. The UAE has made significant developments in this area in the past decade. Even so, the United States Department of States noted that domestic violence and escalating abuse against women and children were the grave problem. At the same time, it is noted that the police, social workers, and non-governmental organizations began to address the issues in coordination with domestic NGOs. Women, especially non-citizens, face societal and legal discrimination (Bassma, 2012; United States Department of State, 2013). Political parties and trade unions are illegal. NGOs and other organizations must be registered by the UAE Ministry of Social Affairs. Interestingly, the registered NGOs may receive financial support from the government. The strict regulation rules require that all boards of directors and participating voting members must be Emirati. As of 2013, there were about 130 local NGOs, which were mostly local associations for social-cultural, economic, and religious purposes (United States Department of State, 2013). However, the Emirate Human Rights Association (EHRA) pointed out that most of these NGOs were inactive (UAE Ministry of Labour, 2013; United States Department of State, 2013). Unions and NGOs must adhere to the government’s firm and obligatory censorship guidelines. Furthermore, NGOs must obtain government consent before publishing any content. This paper examines the origin, structure, purpose degree of success, and methods of operation of NGOs. It also explores whether Dubai Foundation for Women and Children plays an important role or exerts tangible influence in the UAE.
The Background and Structure of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC)
The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) is a a non-governmental organization (NGO) working on crime (DFWAC, 2014; UNODC, 2014). As the name hints, it is found in Dubai, which one of the emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is also the first certified not-for-profit shelter in the UAE. DFWAC protects children and women from the escalating domestic violence. The NGO also protects women and children from the perpetrators of human trafficking (NCCHT, 2014). The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children was established in 2007 to offer protection to the victims of domestic violence and abuse, as well as to offer them urgent support services in alignment with the international human rights responsibility. According to UNODC (2014) and NCCHT (2014), the functional areas of DFWAC include victim protection, training, research, rehabilitation, counseling, and fighting human trafficking. The NGO operates under the belief that every person deserves respect and has the right to human dignity. DFWAC also operates on the tenet that no form of violence is justifiable, and abuse is not the victim’s fault. Further, every individual has the right to life and freedom to live anywhere without fear. To address the related problems, the NGO stresses education campaigns to prevent and create awareness about the impact of violence in families and the community as a whole. The operations of DFWAC are underpinned by the idea that the protection of women and children is essential for the wellbeing of the whole society (Bassma, 2012).
DFWAC has a hierarchical organizational structure with the Board of Directors at its peak. Two Assistants Director-General assist the Director General: for Corporate Support and Care & Social Services. The Communication and Legal Affairs departments sit in the Director General’s office. The Human Resource (HR), Finance, Administration, and IT departments fall under the Assistant Director-General for Corporate Support. Figure 1 illustrates the organizational structure of DFWAC. It raises its finances through fundraising and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, it uses the service of volunteers in its programs (Ismail, 2011).
Purpose of the DFWAC
According to Bassma (2012), DFWAC strives to ensure that the community is free of abuse and violence. The NGO aims to alleviate violence and abuse against women and children through prevention, protection and awareness mechanisms. One of the NGO’s core values is to protect psychologically and physically abused women and children. The other core value of the DFWAC is to prevent continuing of abuse and increase of violence (DFWAC, 2014). Similarly to other entities that endeavor to enhance human rights in the UAE, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children promotes social awareness through outreach and education campaigns. In congruence with State Federal Law No 51 covering human trafficking crimes, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is on the forefront of fighting this inhuman practice, particularly of women and children (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013; United States Department of State, 2013). Human trafficking entails transferring, recruiting or transporting people by means of threat or any form of coercion, manipulation, deceit or receiving financial funds and exposing them to be exploited by another person that has influence (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013; NCCHT, 2014). Exploitation encompasses forced labor, detachment of organs, enslavement, forced prostitution, and sexual abuse.
The role and impact of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) in the UAE
Arguably, the role and impact of DFWAC is tangible within Dubai subject to the constraints presented by the UAE government. In view of the fact that non-governmental organizations and other associations within the UAE are subjected to stern government censorship, it follows that an NGO, such as DFWAC, is limited in its activities. Despite facing restrictions and censorship from the government, as well as facing financial constraints, DFWAC has recorded several achievements since its inception in 2007. As noted in one of its publications, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children was the first not-for-profit organization to be licensed within its operations (DFWAC, 2014). Additionally, the organization has severed and offered full support to over 385 victims of violence since its inception (UNODC, 2014). In the same context, the NGO has offered more than 25 community awareness programs on matters pertaining to violence, especially against women and children. In reference to DFWAC Annual Report 2012, the NGO had served 1,017 clients since its inception in 2007 (DFWAC, 2014). During the same reporting period, 74% of the received cases were expatriates. Out of all the cases handled in 2012, 35% were children. DFWAC also managed to empower families, thereby strengthening social ties (UAE Today, 2014). Further, the organization develops a research on pertinent social issues. Such information is vital for policy formulation around social issues, such as gender inequality, discrimination, and violence against women. DFWAC approaches its vision by collaborating with both local and applicable international entities involved in the protection of fundamental human rights. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2013), DFWAQ collaborates with another shelter in Dubai called the Human Rights Care Department. Other shelters in the UAE are located in Abu Dhabi, and these include Ewaa and the Social Support Center (NCCHT, 2014).
In 2010, the NGO was honored by the University of Dubai in appreciation of participating in a counseling workshop within the college. In the same year, DFWAC was honored by Ras Al Khaimah Courts Department for its efforts in ensuring that justice is achieved for victims of domestic violence and exploitation, particularly women. Outstandingly, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children received an award in 2010 from American University of Sharjah (AUS) for its efforts regarding women issues. Other entities that have honored the NGO in the recent past include Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Police, Women Leadership, Dubai Customs, Zayed University, Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, the Emirates Woman, and Kuwait Society for the Ideal Family. As noted in the DFWAC annual report 2012, 21% of the received cases had the UAE passports. Three cases had Gulf Cooperation Council passports. This illustrates the scope of its operations and impact on the lives of victimized people in the UAE. In 2014, it was granted the membership to the Child Helpline International Foundation (UAEInteract, 2014). Based on these awards and other achievements, it is arguable that the NGO plays a vital role and ranks high among women and children in Dubai.
The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) was established as a humanitarian initiative to shelter and support victims of violence in Dubai. The progress and achievements of DFWAC have not been smooth, but the NGO has committed its limited resources to set new standards in the protection and enhancement of human rights. DFWAC provides support to women and children victims of violence and abuse, including safe housing, counseling, and medical care. Besides these core services, the NGO provides secondary support services, which entail vocational services, children’s education, physical education, recreational activities, and skills training. In addition, DFWAC runs comprehensive awareness programs, including lectures & workshops, symposiums, presentations, and public awareness events. DFWAC also acknowledges the existing and emerging challenges; thus, it reiterates to address them based on its core principles of prevention, protection, and promotion.
Bassma, A. J. (2012, March 8). Dubai foundation offers help for abused women, children.
DFWAC (2014). Building Strong Bonds for Life.
Ismail, M. (2011, April). Dubai Foundation for Women and Children recruits 200 volunteers.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2013). Human Trafficking.
NCCHT (2014). Combating HumanTrafficking in UAE: Annual Report 2013-2014.
UAE Ministry of Labour (2013). The UAE National Report to the UN. UAE Ministry of Labour.
UAE Today (2014). Silkor Joins Hands With Dubai Foundation To Empower Underprivileged Women And Children.
UAEInteract (2014, September 15). DFWAC awarded membership of Child Helpline International.
United States Department of State (2013). 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
UNODC (2014). Dubai Foundation For Women and Children (DFWAC).