managed by P. Cenedella (Communication)
Uncertain future for desperate women as refuge faces closure due to lack of funds Victims of human trafficking and domestic violence in Dubai could be forced back onto the streets when a shelter offering them sanctuary is forced to close by tomorrow. City of Hope, the emirate’s only independent women’s refuge, has been told to leave its villa base in Jumeirah because it cannot pay the dhs200,000 annual rent. Donations to the safe-haven began to dry up last year when its founder, Sharla Musabih, was the focus of a concerted smear campaign. Sharla, an American who married a UAE national, says she returned to the States in June because of the vendetta which she claims was run by disgruntled husbands and organised crime gangs angered by her attempts to tackle human trafficking.She said: “We are in crisis. We don’t have the money to pay the rent and we have to leave the building. Nearly all the women at the shelter at the moment are victims of human trafficking into the country. “The women have nowhere else to go - they will be back on the streets across the Emirates.” City of Hope currently houses 12 women and four children. The refuge is racing against time to try to find them temporary accommodation with volunteers. Women’s rights activist Sharla claims she has even been subjected to death threats from the husbands of women who fled to the refuge to find safety. She said: “There are some people who have made it very difficult for City of Hope - people became scared about giving us donations and that has had an impact on us. “The victims are terrified they will be prosecuted and sent to jail which means they are terrified of saying anything to the authorities,” Sharla said.