[15 June 2013] – On 30 May an emergency women’s shelter in the Jordan Valley re-opened following extensive renovations. The WCLAC-run shelter originally opened in 2006 and was the first of its kind in the West Bank, providing refuge for women whose lives are at risk from domestic violence. The shelter, located in a rural setting, was originally established with the help of Palestinian and foreign donations.
The shelter provides emergency accommodation for up to eight women and two children for a month at a time. If required, women in need of longer-term accommodation are referred to shelters in Nablus and Beit Sahour. Whilst at the shelter, women are provided with expert counselling in a safe environment, staffed 24 hours per day. In most cases the women come from impoverished rural and urban backgrounds and are referred to the shelter by the police, Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) or by WCLAC.
The opening of shelters in the West Bank, including the one in the Jordan Valley, marks an important milestone in breaking down reluctance within Palestinian society to discuss domestic violence issues. Whilst concerns about safety are paramount, the shelter works to re-integrate affected women back into their communities in co-ordination with MOSA, the police and other relevant stakeholders. Where re-integration is not possible or desirable, the shelter works to find appropriate alternative solutions. In the course of a single year, the shelter will typically provide refuge for around 50 women and their children.
According to WCLAC’s General Director, Maha Abu-Dayyeh, an important element in the success of the shelter has been in developing the relationships with all relevant parties including MOSA, the police and the community at large. “We have come to a clear understanding with the various stakeholders involved in terms of defining the roles and each taking their own responsibilities. We have come a long way since the shelter was first established in 2006.”