Model centre to support women and children victims of domestic violence launched in Maputo
Maputo, April 2009 – The first of a new series of centres to support women and children victims of domestic violence was officially inaugurated in Maputo this month. These centres are regarded as “models”, designed with requirements of quality, standards and improved capacity to provide appropriate and wide-ranging care.
The ceremony was held as part of the 7 April celebrations – Mozambican Women’s Day – and was attended by representatives of the Government, UNICEF and the Portuguese Embassy, among other partners.
“We believe that the improvement of the network of support centres and their infrastructures and services, as well as the establishment of an emergency telephone line, will without doubt strengthen the existing mechanisms to prevent and respond to violence against women and children”, said the Deputy Minister of Interior José Mandra.
The first centres to support victims of domestic violence were set up in 2000, in Maputo and Beira cities. Currently there are more than two hundred of these centres in police stations and hospitals in all of the country’s provinces. The objective is to provide a safe space where women and children victims of violence, abuse and exploitation can denounce these situations, receive the necessary care and be refered to specialised services.
In these centres, women and children victims of violence and abuse have been received by staff trained to deal with gender issues, and have had access to specialist services such as medical treatment, psycho-social care, counselling, and legal assistance, among others.
These centres undertake activities to raise awareness in the communities, since community involvement is fundamental to prevent violence, abuse and exploitation of women and children.
The new “model” centres include furnished rooms where the victims can rest and obtain more personalised counselling.
For this year, it is envisaged that a total of 14 model centres will be opened throughout the country, and they will be expanded in the ensuing years.
The support centres are coordinated by the Department for Attendance to Women and Children of the General Command of the Mozambican Police. This is a multi-sector intervention that also involves the Ministries of Health, of Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare, and of Justice, with the technical and financial support of UNICEF, Portuguese Cooperation, the French Embassy, Save the Children, and other partners.
“We think that only with a holistic, multi-sector approach we will be able to give real replies and resources to the victims for their rehabilitation and social reinsertion and, in the final analysis, to ensure a legal resolution of conflicts”, said UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala.
A significant number of women and children in the country are victims of violence, abuse and exploitation, including trafficking. In 2008 alone, over 14,000 victims, including more than 2,700 children, were reported to and assisted by the support centres.
In a study held by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare, in 2004, about 34 per cent of the women surveyed at the time said that they had been attacked, and about 10 per cent confirmed that they had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse.
This is the context in which the Mozambican Government, in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, has been developing ever more effective multi-sector response instruments and mechanisms, including the approval of the Children’s Act in 2008.
Discussion of a bill against domestic violence is on the agenda of the Mozambican parliament. Strengthening the support centres, accompanied by the training of police officers in matters of protecting the rights of women and children, are part of the response to the violence perpetrated against them.