the City of Hope

Linked with Sharla Musabih – United Arab Emirates, and with Women living under Muslim laws.

The group will be permitted to have an own website only when the government has given them an official recognition (statement in a TV documentation on the french channel odyssee, showing the city of hope).

The City of Hope – an organization founded in 2001 by Sharla and two other women, Lena Mustapha and Margaret Greeney – has served as a refuge for hundreds of abused women and children. Its establishment, says Sharla, was in direct response to a growing need that has been neglected during the UAE’s stunning infrastructural and cultural transformation … The police and other social agencies, says Sharla, found it hard to cope with the sudden rush of an incoming multinational population. Their systems – designed with the customs of the UAE in mind – began to crack … According to figures released by the human rights section of the Dubai Police, some 45 cases of family problems were reported in the city last year, only four of which were cases of violence against women. At the time of the report’s publication, Sharla dismissed the statistics as a gross underestimate, blaming the police system for mishandling domestic abuse situations. Abuse victims are often sent back home ‘after the police ask the husband to sign a statement promising not to harm his wife again’. Despite this, her relationship with the Dubai Police is good – she was officially honoured by them late last year. ‘Gaining official status from the UAE Government [should] protect me and allow me to work in safety. And building more shelters would allow us to cope with the results of an ever-increasing multinational population. This country must never be allowed to live in denial [of the needs] of a [foreign] population which they have invited.’ (full text).

While the Dubai police department runs a “Caring for Victims” program aimed at helping women and children who have been victims of crime and abuse, the program only offers legal, psychological, and financial help, but refers women who seek refuge from abusive husbands or employers to Dubai’s sole women’s shelter, known as “City of Hope.” The “City,” or better known as Villa 18, however, is not officially licensed, and has over the past few years come under attack by many locals, mainly men, who believe that its mere presence contradicts UAE culture. The shelter, set up in 2001 by Sharla Musabih, who is originally from the United States and has been married to a local for over 20 years, houses tens of women and children at any given month. Musabih has tried for years to get the shelter officially licensed, but her requests always fell on deaf ears. (full text).

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