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Sharjah launches comprehensive ‘shelter’ for child abuse victims – News


Photos by M. Sajjad

Published: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 5:50 p.m.

Last update: Friday, November 10, 2023, 8:19

Sharjah authorities on Thursday inaugurated a one-stop center where children can freely report abuse to the police and get legal, psychological and social support at the same time. Victims no longer have to undergo repetitive interviews.

Called Kanaf, which means “shelter”, the child protection center will begin operations next week and will welcome all nationalities.

While Sharjah already has entities specialized in social services, this center offers more comprehensive support, a senior official said during the launch.

“What sets this center apart is that children no longer have to visit multiple entities for reporting, investigation and treatment,” said Hanadi Alyafei, director general of Child Safety.

The new multi-agency facility creates an environment where children and their families can get all the help they need. The initiative comes as part of the emirate’s commitment to protecting the vulnerable.

“The process involves the child having a unique experience in a welcoming building, which emphasizes the importance of interviewing them only once, rather than multiple times in different locations,” Alyafei said.

Hanadi Alyafei

Hanadi Alyafei

“Treatment and support are offered in one location until the child is ready to return home.”

How the process works

Cases are received through the child protection helpline 800700, operated by the Sharjah Department of Social Services. The center filters these cases, identifies the genuine ones and redirects them accordingly.

Kanaf and his partners then evaluate the case and determine whether it involves physical or sexual abuse.

“The second stage, known as ‘Joint Assessment’, during which the Kanaf social worker meets with relevant partners and holds the first case conference,” said Ameena Al Refaei, Kanaf manager.

“The third stage, the ‘child interview’, involves appointing a representative from the mental health unit to accompany the authorized person to listen to the child’s story.”

The fourth stage, ‘medical examination’, involves the preparation of a report that includes the child’s medical history and the results of a complete physical examination.

“In the next stage, a ‘legal case’ is presented after verifying all the data, the results of the medical examination and the information obtained from the interview of the child. The department of social services appoints a legal representative for the child,” she added..

The case file is then sent to the judiciary and close monitoring is carried out to ensure the virtual presence of the child in court sessions, accompanied by the legal representative and a representative of the mental health unit.

Dr Safiya Alkhaja, director of Al Qassimi Women and Children’s Hospital, said: “The final stage involves providing psychological and social therapy. This stage is guided by the child’s mental health history and a thorough assessment of the potential impact of abuse. A personalized treatment plan is designed to address the needs of the victim and their family members. The plan, which may vary from case to case, includes therapeutic and rehabilitation programs based on best practices.”


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