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Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence in the UAE Report

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2020


There have been numerous cases of violence against women in the Arab world over the years. Additionally, the culture of the citizens of the UAE has been blamed for the general mistreatment of women and girls. The Freedom House (2005) reveals that Sharia law has been interpreted to suggest that women are of lesser importance than men. In fact, as Dajani (2014) explains, studies have shown that the number of gender-based violence in the region increased to 840 in 2013 from 313 in 2010. In addition, women have been perceived to be less intellectual, such that a majority of their decisions has to be made by their male relatives. Due to this, the proposed campaign aims to reduce prejudice in the community against women and improve the weak perception about women.

SWOT analysis


  • Encourage women to speak out for themselves
  • Build confidence in the girl child so that she can be determined to fulfil her dreams
  • Change male perspectives on women and their value in the society
  • Encourage women to demand for their rights from their government


  • It is difficult to convince the reserved and conservative women on the importance of the campaign
  • It is challenging to get well known and respectable men to join the course
  • The difficulties are enhanced by the Islamic culture


  • There are some cities in the United Arab Emirates that have embraced change and support the fight against discrimination and violence against women; for example, Dubai
  • Leaders from Dubai can be easily convinced to join the campaign and bring on a wealth of knowledge. They would demand respect from the public.


  • The religion of the citizens will be a significant threat as most of the times the leaders of the UAE have argued that their actions towards women are justified by their religion.
  • The campaign might also be threatened by security issues because it targets the interpretation of the Koran, something that is very delicate. Currently, terrorists have killed hundreds of people in the name of defending their religion and beliefs.

Objective 1

To raise awareness about the issue and decrease it or try to prevent it from happening

Objective 2

To empower women and encourage them to embrace the freedom of speech in order to speak for themselves

Secondary Research

Veerendra (2013) reveals that treatment of women in the UAE has been under debate for numerous years now. Dajani (2014) explains that the issue of domestic violence has become worse over the years, such that legislatures have called for new laws on the issue. It is crucial to understand the reasons why domestic violence is very common in the UAE before analysing what has been done so far to help in the prevention of the problem.

Mahdavi (2011) argues that religion and culture are the core factors that enhance both emotional and mental violence against women in the UAE. The whole of the UAE uses Sharia Law to govern its citizens, which apparently means that the predominant religion in the area is Islam. Many Islam enthusiasts and religious leaders have argued that the religion determines the treatment of each person in the society.

Religion has been used to draft punishments that are instilled using Sharia Law. In the same vein, the culture practiced goes hand in hand with the religion (Krause, 2008). For example, according to the Islamic faith, women are not supposed to wear tight clothing or show parts of their body to the public. The culture adheres to this norm by encouraging women to wear loose and long dresses and cover their hair and face. Finley (2013) argues that women in the region do not show off any skin to the public even, when they go swimming. If a woman has to swim, then she has to do so with her long dress and swim somewhere men are not allowed so that the men do not see her hair.

It suffices to mention that culture has also been blamed for the reserved nature of women in the UAE. Many women in the UAE do not believe they are good enough to go to school or work (Kelly & Breslin, 2010). This is undoubtedly a form of mental abuse. The abuse has been ongoing for so many years such that it is common to find women refusing to take up jobs or send their female children to school.

Womenshealth.gov (n.d.) explains that monitoring is the most common emotional abuse in the UAE. According to the Islamic culture, a woman has to be monitored at all times. To some, monitoring is so extreme that they cannot even go outside without a male relative accompanying them. The married women go out in the company of their spouses or brother-in-laws, while daughters go out in the company of brothers or their dad only. The close and constant monitoring make it difficult for women in the region to sit down together and talk about their issues. The everyday things that affect women are also deemed a taboo to say, and the person monitoring the women has to ensure that such topics are not discussed. The monitoring can also be so intense that the woman cannot be left to be on her own.

In addition, the UAE women do not report any form of physical violence against them. Dajani (2014) asserts that many women are beaten up and physically tortured by their male relatives, especially if they do something that the male relative does not approve. The women see no need to report it because religion and culture have been interpreted to agree with this form of ‘punishment’. Even if the women decided to report the abuse, a majority would not know the right person to go to.

Chaudhry (2013) also observes that many of the women are humiliated in front of other people. The humiliation is often done in the presence of other men, who will then continue to embarrass the lady in question. This affects the woman’s self-esteem and confidence. The male relatives also control how the woman uses money. This is one of the issues that have created a lot of debates. The religious leaders in the region have explained that it is the man’s responsibility to check the usage of money in his household.

Therefore, if a woman is to work, then it means that the man cannot control the money she earns as salary. In some singular, yet shocking instances, there are male relatives who have encouraged the women in their families to work only for them to demand to be in control of the salary the woman gets. It suffices to mention that there have been advanced campaigns that have tried to correct the situation in the UAE. However, it is arguable that the campaigns have not done enough, given that there are still cases of domestic violence and emotional and mental abuse in the region.


As mentioned, there are two objectives that the campaign will ride on. This section will contain two sub-sections that discuss both objectives.

Objective 1

The first objective is to raise awareness about the issue and decrease it or try to prevent it from happening. This is the informational goal of the campaign. It is crucial at this juncture to clearly define the objective in order to avoid confusion during the campaign. Indeed, women and men in the UAE are aware of the emotional and mental abuse that takes place in a majority of the households in the region. This objective aims to raise awareness of the actions that can be taken when such domestic violence occurs. Many women are not aware that action can be taken against men who mistreat them.

It suffices to mention that there are parts of the UAE where women are still abused openly, unlike in Dubai, where the government has tried to curb the problem. In such cities, it will be important also to include a campaign for the awareness of human rights. This campaign will target not only the women in the region, but also the men so that they can be educated in other civil ways of expressing disappointment. They can also be educated on the dangers of such violence. Keddie (2012) argues that it is crucial for men to understand that what they do to their women is wrong, given that many men believe they do the right thing as it is supposedly encouraged in the Sharia Law.

It is also important to note that religious leaders have to be included in order to interpret the teachings of the Koran to the people, given that this part of the campaign is informational. They will also use religion to provide information on why any form of violence and abuse is wrong.

Objective 2

The second objective of the campaign is to empower women and encourage them to embrace the freedom of speech in order to speak for themselves. This is the motivational objective of the campaign. Other than ensuring that women know where they can go if abused, it is also crucial that they are given the power to speak. In a community where women’s voices go hush when men speak, it is safe to admit that this will be the most challenging part of the campaign.

However, as mentioned, there are well known and respected leaders who can be used to ensure that the campaign is successful. Dubai is one of the cities that have tried to reduce domestic violence against women. Leaders in this city will, thus, be the best to interact with in terms of encouraging women in other areas to speak out for their rights.

In the same breath, it is recommended that the campaign for the freedom of speech also includes religious leaders because culture is crucial to the citizens of the UAE. It is important that religious leaders also are part of the campaign team to make the citizens comfortable enough and help them understand that they will not be going against the teachings of the Koran.


Chaudhry, A. S. (2013). Domestic violence and the Islamic tradition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Web.

Dajani H. (2014). . The National. Web.

Finley, L. L. (2013). Encyclopaedia of domestic violence and abuse. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Web.

Freedom House (2005). Women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Citizenship and justice. Oxford, UK: Rowman and Littlefield. Web.

Keddie, N. R. (2012). Women in the Middle East: Past and present. Oxfordshire, UK: Princeton University Press. Web.

Kelly, S. & Breslin, J. (2010). Women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress and resistance. Oxford, UK: Rowman and Littlefield. Web.

Krause, W. (2008). Women in civil society. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Web.

Mahdavi, P. (2011). Gridlock: Labor, migration and human trafficking in Dubai. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Web.

Veerendra, M. (2013). Human trafficking: The stakeholders’ perspective. New Delhi: SAGE. Web.

Womenshealth.gov (n.d.). Violence against women. Web.

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