27 September 2018

Sara Shuhail: Ewa’a is a safe haven for human trafficking victims


?             Speaking about Ewa’a Shelters’ efforts in helping victims of human trafficking, what would you say?

?             Within just a few years, Ewa’a Shelters managed to translate its ambitious vision into a reality. This vision aims at enhancing its pioneering role in the field of caring for and rehabilitating victims to maintain human rights ? in an effective collaboration with its strategic partners, with the purpose of making the Emirati community free of crimes that bear on human dignity. This is carried out through successive stations of success and excellence that have made the shelters today at the vanguard of humanitarian organizations, locally, regionally and internationally.

?             What is the number of cases received by the shelters and the number of those whom the shelters managed to deal with?

?             Since the opening of the shelters in 2009, it received 293 victims of various nationalities, ranging in age between 5 and 45 years old, knowing that we handled all these cases successfully.

?             How do you deal with the victims of human trafficking, considering the privacy and sensitivity of this issue?

?             The shelters maintain full confidentiality, observing international standards in dealing with victims of human trafficking, and ensures all the steps of safety and security.

Efforts and impact

?             How would you assess the impact of the UAE in terms of combatting human trafficking on the international level?

?             Statistically speaking, the numbers of traffickers diminished since the state has exerted tremendous efforts to protect the vulnerable victims, enacted laws for their sake, and signed international agreements in this regard. Hence, the UAE was the first country to enact an anti-human trafficking law, which was amended in 2015 to deter criminals.

?             How far are you worried because of the increase in human trafficking operations? And are you satisfied with the efforts exerted to solve this problem?

?             Considering the relevant statistics given by official authorities, I am not worried at all, since this crime is not a phenomenon in the UAE. However, it is a problem that needs to be firmly, relentlessly and consciously combatted, especially that it is a border-crossing crime that bifurcates in several countries as a result of poverty or wards or natural disasters.


Humanitarian cases

?             What are the strangest case that you have come upon during your work?

?             I cannot call it strangest. Rather, it was the most impressive case that had an impact on me as a human being and as a mother. When the victim is a child or one of the people of determination, they would be incapable of conceiving the extent of the calamity, defending themselves or expressing themselves or that which they would have gone through. Besides, the process of rehabilitating them would be more complicated, especially regarding some cases when the traffickers are the parents of the victims.

A march that instills a sense of pride

?             What are the most significant responses to your efforts, which left their marks on you?

?             On top of these responses came from the UN Office at Vienna, when they called our shelters the “Safe Paradise” given the role our shelters play, in terms of the efforts they exert and the services they provide to the victims. I was also personally impressed by the stance of one of the victims who changed her name to Sara, after me, expressing her desire to maintain a sense of hope and optimism, due to the humane treatment she received from me. Added to these are the messages of appreciation and gratefulness we constantly received from the victims who have been deported, as tokens of thankfulness to us for giving them the change to start a new life.

?             What are the most significant achievements that make you feel proud on both personal and public levels?

?             I feel proud when I see my children pursue my course and tread the path of serving our homeland, setting as excellence at work as their target. I have implanted in their minds the saying of our late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan (may Allah shower his soul with mercy) that “the prime duty of the citizen is to work night and day towards self-improvement since this would entail improvement all over the nation. The citizen should not suffice with sheer obtainment of a certificate and acquisition of a job without doing anything else”. On the public level, and through my work in the field of education, I take pride and sense honor when I see my female graduate students assume leading positions in the state. Through my work in the field of combatting human trafficking, I take pride in seeing almost 300 vulnerable victims receive health and legal care and rehabilitation that end up in their reintegration as active individuals in their community.

Nature of work

?             What is your secret recipe for today’s mothers on how to reconcile domestic and work duties?

?             The nature of a woman’s work should be going well with her responsibilities as a mother and a wife. This was one of the firm principles preached by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan (may Allah shower his soul with mercy) for women, as he said, “I encourage a woman to assume job positions that suit her nature in a way that preserve her dignity and respect as a mother and as a maker of generations”. I also would like to refer to the unlimited support given by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chair of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of Family Development Foundation, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood (Mother of the Emirates). She underscores the principles preached by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan (may Allah shower his soul with mercy) regarding woman’s right to education and to work, and in light of the state’s need for women to fill senior positions. However, I personally deem that a woman needs to identify her own priorities to be able to undertake her primary task as a maker of generations.

Titles and Awards

?             Sara Shuhail worked in the pedagogical field and contributed in disseminating education over 31 years.

?             She ranked 79 on the list of CEO’s ? Arabian Business’ twin magazine ? 100 Most Powerful Arab Women, in 2013, and then ranked 59 on this list in 2015.

?             She won the PetroChem Award, humanitarian category, in 2012.

?             She won the Inspiring Woman award due to her achievements in Ewa’a Shelters, as part of L’Officiel Arab Woman of the Year Awards ? Abu Dhabi 2012.

?             She is an Arab Woman of the Year Award Committee member ? 2013.

?             She is titled an ‘expert’ by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, in the field of combatting human trafficking.

?             She obtained a Specialized Diploma in Human Trafficking, the first of a kind in the Arab world, in 2016.

(Zahrat Al Khaleej Magazine)