Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development revealed the launch of several initiatives within the pillars of the family protection policy, most notably, the establishment of a unified database to link all entities that are related to family protection all over the UAE adopting a unified system for reporting and receiving complaints, including family protection in all university specialties in humanities and psychological sciences, conducting survey studies on family protection and applying preliminary protection standards and issuing a family protection law and strategy.
This was announced during the media briefing by Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhmaid, about the reality and targets of the family protection policy in the attendance of senior management from the Ministry and representatives of those entities involved in the preparation of the policy from the Ministry of Community Development, Ministry of Interior, General Women’s Union, Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi, Community Development Authority in Dubai, Social Services Department in Sharjah, Dubai Foundation for Women and Children and media members.
Her Excellency emphasized on the decision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to declare the new policy last week, as part of strengthening social ties within the UAE families and affirming the meanings of unity and cohesion between all family members and the community.
Her Excellency said: “While we speak today about all the family members, let us all implement the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to focus primarily on strengthening social ties and family bonds as stated in the family protection policy.
Let us all commit ourselves to the sayings of His Highness and emphasize on the concepts of unity and cohesion in the society, and regulate procedures and mechanisms of institutions specializing in domestic violence as mentioned in the policy too. We in the UAE do not tolerate any kind of violence towards children, elderly people or women. We also promise to support the nation, family and community members to enhance societal responsibility and boost family solidarity and cohesion, based on the positive reality of families in the UAE as well as laws, policies and initiatives stipulated in this regard. There are (16) federal laws entitled for family members and all categories of the community, (6) executive bylaws and ministerial decisions, (7) agreements and international conventions ratified by the UAE, (9) policies: National Youth Agenda and Strategy 2015, National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women 2015-2021, National Policy for Empowering People of Determination 2017, National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood, Plan to enhance People of Determination Rights 2017-2021, Family Stability Support Strategy in Abu Dhabi 2018-2025, UAE National Family Policy, 2018, National Policy for Senior Emiratis 2018, Plan to Combat Violence Against Women in Dubai 2018, and this new policy “Family Protection Policy”.
Her Excellency said: “The Family Protection Policy” is an important initiative since it targets the family and societal stability and coherence, regulates the procedures and mechanisms of entities that are directly dealing with family protection, promotes the UAE directives to integrate roles between entities and partnership between all sectors to serve the community and unify the concepts of fighting violence and all its forms. The state level referential policy will bring together all relevant authorities to make greater efforts in finding initiatives to tackle and solve related issues. The policy’s pillars include mechanisms for protection and intervention, development of legislation and laws, as well as prevention and raising community awareness on domestic violence. It will also set standards for the training of staff working in the field as well as studies, research and statistics supporting family protection and stability of its members.
Her Excellency elaborated that the policy focuses on family protection to maintain the safety of families, since their protection is on the top priority agenda of the UAE government. She said: “The Ministry of Community Development recognizing the importance of family stability and protection, plays a pivotal role towards achieving family stability and cohesion to reflect the interests of the UAE government towards Emirati family members since the beginning of the federation 48 years ago.
Violence and Abuse FormsThe family protection policy defined various forms of violence: physical violence, verbal violence, psychological or moral violence, sexual violence, economic violence and neglect. All parties involved in stipulating the policy, agreed to define family protection as “any abuse, violence or threat committed by a family member against any other family member or individual exceeding his guardianship, jurisdiction, authority or responsibility resulting in physical or psychological harm”.
The policy stipulated mechanisms for protection and intervention represented in approving a reporting and complaint system, through establishing a unified reporting and complaints process, damage assessment and rapid response to different cases all over the UAE, applying preliminary prevention and protection standards and best practices to ensure integrity between all competent authorities, developing and modifying administrative frameworks in all competent authorities such as (courts, public prosecutions, hospitals…etc) to establish protection units with social and psychological protection specialists, establishing family protection center, a specialized center to receive and shelter cases, providing necessary services and setting an appropriate treatment plan for each case to help them solve their problems.
Laws and Legislations
The Family Protection Policy included several joint initiatives to be implemented in the upcoming three years in cooperation with relevant authorities. These initiatives are a part of supporting laws and legislations that include: promulgation of a main legislation (family protection law), a federal legislation regulating family protection cases, relationships between family members between 2020-2021, promulgation of a sub-main legislation (executive by-law) to include proper mechanism and application of the law during these years and preparation of the family protection strategy to include indicators targeting family bonding in the UAE community during 2021.
The Family Protection Policy also focuses on qualitative training for staff to raise their career competencies through specialized training and providing employees with professional licenses, i.e. training and qualification of family protection employees on the techniques of dealing with service beneficiaries in accordance with the best standards and advanced professional methods, issuing a profession practice card and judicial restraint order through the service “from our heart” which encourages all volunteers to be trained on providing services for the targeted audience, launching an effective training program to rehabilitate and train family members to protect themselves, and finally organizing an international family conference on family protection methods.
In the field of research, studies and statistics, the Family Protection Policy included a survey study about family protection in the Emirati community with the purpose of clarifying information about a specific topic and all factors associated to it, including university specializations especially those related to humanitarian, social and psychological fields, establishing a database known as “family monitoring”, a federal database linking the Ministry of Community Development and those entities related to family protection all over the UAE.
As part of the Family Protection Policy, there are other initiatives and programs that enrich the societal awareness and protection pillars such as: studying and evaluating programmes by preparing a research study about the feasibility of community-oriented prevention and awareness programmes in the context of family protection, and benefiting from the results in the proposed programmes. “My protection is a priority”, an awareness campaign that includes the implementation of a package of awareness and educational programmes aimed at promoting awareness on the importance of prevention of different methods and forms of violence, respect for others as an important entity and an active member in sustainable development, and dealing with family protection issues, intervention methods, and treatment, in addition to, awareness programs and workshops addressed to institutions, community members and families with the aim of introducing them to all aspects of family protection.
Speaking about the details of the Family Protection Policy, Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, added that the United Arab Emirates and its wise leadership are very keen to put the UAE nationals on their top priority agenda and provide them with utmost care, protection, development and empowerment, as well as happiness for all members of the community with the commitment to customs and traditions deep-rooted in the Emirati community.
Her Excellency referred to the constitution of the United Arab Emirates which emphasizes on equality and social justice and at the same time provides security, tranquility and equal opportunities for all Emiratis, as well as the provision of services such as free compulsory education, health services, employment opportunities for all Emiratis, and the need for issuing laws to regulate public assistance and social security to protect motherhood and childhood and others who are unable to take care of themselves. This is stated in many articles, such as Article 14, Article 16, Article 25 and article 44 of the UAE Constitution.
Her Excellency concluded “Our reality today is not a cause of concern or makes us pessimistic, family is the most important social factor in the Emirati community and a main interest and concern at the individual and institutional level”, referring to dozens of authorities concerned with the family at the state level as development institutions under the umbrella of the federal government, local governments, or Public Benefit Associations.