Civil Society in Seychelles to open first crisis shelter for women
The instances of gender-based violence are continuously on the rise said the chief executive of CEPS. (Irene Scott/AusAID, Wiki Commons) Photo License: CC BY 2.0
(Seychelles News Agency) - Civil society in Seychelles will open the first crisis shelter for abused women in the island nation in November. The facility is funded by the European Union and is an initiative of the Citizens Engagement Platform of Seychelles (CEPS), which groups together not for profit organisations.
The chief executive of CEPS - Michel Pierre – told SNA last week that the shelter is long overdue. “The instances of gender-based violence are continuously on the rise. This is clearly reflected in reports. When there was the availability of funding through EU we decided to bring our contributions on this issue,” explained Pierre.
According to Pierre, the project has different components. “One is to look at laws that have to do with gender-based violence. We know that there is the domestic violence bill which is still under discussion.
As civil society we are making sure that we have an input in the bill as well as pushing for its approval by the national assembly,” said Pierre.
The law, according to Pierre, will ensure that perpetrators are punished and survivors can get recourse through the justice system.
“Secondly when women are abused, they do not have a safe place to go. They find themselves having to live with relatives and friends. This is not a pleasant situation especially if children are involved. So we decided to initiate this crisis shelter for women. This will be a place where they can come and live on a temporary basis, get counselling as well as psychosocial support, find themselves and get back on their feet again,” said the chief executive.
The centre will offer legal assistance to women.
The latest statistics published in December 2016, shows at least 58 percent of Seychellois women experience some sort of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Even though there is no dedicated facility for abused women, same can find temporary shelter at church-related services such as the Foyer the Nazareth in the northern district of Anse Etoile on the main island of Mahe.
|Statistics published in December 2016, shows at least 58 percent of Seychellois women experience some sort of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. (Senado Federal, Wiki Commons) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0
The Ministry for Family Affairs had for several years worked on a strategy for gender-based violence. “A shelter for abused women was also in the plan, but this could not materialise as funds could not be secured,” said the Principal Secretary for social affairs, Marie Josee Bonne.
The location of the crisis shelter which can accommodate up to seven persons has not been revealed to protect the survivors from the perpetrators.
“It is a house we are renting. The area is secured with CCTV and 24 hours security. Once in operation, the shelter will employ counsellors, health officer, shelter manager, security guard as well as a legal advisor,” explained Pierre.
Pierre said that the civil society has the support of key partners such as the ministry for social affairs, the police as well as the Attorney General’s office. “These will make it easier for referrals. One thing that we want to be clear is that we will not accept anyone without a police officer being present. That is why we want to have a focal person in the police who will assist us to assess the case on the merit of the person entering the shelter,” explained Pierre.
A survivor of gender-based violence, Linda Philoe said that this is a facility that she wished she could have benefitted from. “In such situations, one needs the counselling and definitely the legal advice on how to move forward,” said Philoe.
However, the mother of five said that another issue and a big concern is what happens when the women leave the shelter. “In most cases, we have to go back to the same house with the same perpetrator and sometimes women are left homeless if the house is in the man’s name,” adds Philoe.
CEPS said that following discussions with President Danny Faure on this issue, a plot of land has been identified where a permanent shelter will be constructed when the European Union-funded three-year project ends.