The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is the first licensed non-profit shelter in the UAE for women and children victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and trafficking. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An estimated 36 per cent of calls in the last three months related to victims of violence came from children under the age of 18, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) revealed.

The 24-hour helpline 800111 of DFWAC received 552 calls related to women and children abuse victims during the first half of 2015, as confirmed by Afra Al Basti, (left) Director-General of the foundation.

Afra said that the foundation received 63 per cent more calls in the second quarter of the year when compared to the first.

“We received 1,247 calls in the second quarter. When compared to the first quarter with 787 calls, this indicates that the helpline is gaining more trust among community members,” said Afra.

She added that calls related to abuse victims during the second quarter included 254 calls about victims of domestic violence, or about 50 per cent of the calls, as well as 28 calls about victims of child abuse and eight calls about victims of human trafficking, as well as other calls related to other categories of victims of violence.

Calls received by the helpline during the second quarter included about 465 calls related to cases of violence against women and children, Afra said, including 398 calls from the victims, 48 calls by friends or relatives of the victims and 19 calls by official parties such as school, police, embassies and others.

Afra said that only 8 per cent of the cases received by the foundation through the helpline during the second quarter were in urgent need of support, but none of the cases was under an immediate threat.

However, most of the 2,034 calls received during the last six months were about family counselling and volunteering and donating.

Afra confirmed that 42 per cent of the helpline callers during the second quarter of this year were Emiratis, and the rest of the calls came from residents of other nationalities in the UAE.

“A total of 183 calls came from children under the age of 18, which means we have achieved a new success by reaching this group. We are constantly seeking to raise more awareness among this age group in the community about how to prevent exposure to abuse and violence,” she said.

Afra pointed out that the importance of the helpline is to provide immediate assistance 24 hours a day in situations where people are exposed to abuse in any part of the country, especially those under serious threat, in coordination with the various legal and other entities concerned.

She added that the foundation periodically reviews its services, and it has extended the time of receiving calls through the helpline to 24/7, based on the polls conducted among many customers, especially since a large number of women are working and find it difficult to communicate with the foundation in the morning, in addition to children being in schools.

She noted that the helpline has been linked to the Cases Management System of the foundation to provide the best level of service to the callers and to ensure the speedy completion of the various requirements in strict privacy, adding that DFWAC is constantly working on improving and implementing new ideas to develop its level of services.

She added that DFWAC’s helpline holds the membership of the International Child Helpline, which is a global network of 179 free call centres for the protection and care of children in 143 countries that receive more than 14 million calls per year.

“DFWAC’s helpline is the ninth call centre that holds the International Child Helpline membership in the Middle East and North Africa, and the second within the UAE, which makes the UAE the only country in the region which has two helplines registered with the network,” she said.