December 1st, 2014: Men and women from the student, academic and business communities joined the debate on violence against women at an event hosted by Canadian University Dubai (CUD) to coincide with an international day of recognition on the issue.
The conference heard from speakers across a range of subjects relating to different forms and perspectives of abuse, and conveyed positive messages about how both men and women can act against this form of violence.
Opening the debate, Dr. Louise Lambert, Assistant Professor at CUD, spoke about social responsibility in the context of abuse; emphasizing that people should consider violence that might be inflicted on those around them as well as themselves, whether they are known to them or not.
Youth Coach and Columnist at The National, Khaled Al Ameri, continued with his own insights from a male perspective, discussing his recent article entitled, "We all need to stand up when we see harassment." Khaled shared how learning how to respectfully treat women was an important feature of his childhood.
CUD student Nada Mataar went on to speak about the problems of human trafficking and how people can fall victim to such activities, while Elizabeth Topolskaya spoke on the subject of financial abuse and busted myths about women's spending and saving habits, encouraging all ladies to have their own bank account and financial independence.
Dr. Franziska Apprich, Dean of the Schools of Liberals Arts and Sciences, and Health and Environment, tackled the subject of verbal violence and mob mentality. Using a penguin to bring her story to life, she spoke about how children are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, stressing the importance of treating each other respectfully.
Assistant Professor Dr. Joanna Seraphim provided insights from her research into women living in abusive relationships, discussing how victims had reacted to their abuse and how they had ultimately succeeded in escaping.
Tackling another challenging subject was student Hibo Bile, who spoke out against female genital mutilation (FGM). A Canadian born Somalian, Hibo has worked with organizations in educating women and men on the dangers of FGM, going as far as to assist in having bills passed internationally on the subject.
The conference concluded with the performance of an original drama, penned by student Hala Naser and performed by Hala and Anisa and Shavkat Mukhamedova. Their play 'Suitcase' told the story of a woman's trials with and abusive partner.
The conference was the second in a series focusing on women in society hosted by CUD and, on this occasion, was timed to coincide with the United Nations' international day for the elimination of violence against women.
Student Aliyah Salim who attended the event said "I used to think that it was the sad reality of the world, but now I realize that it is wrong. That a husband beating his wife or speaking badly to her is not acceptable. This event has really changed my whole perspective on the issue."