Like other eastern societies and cultures with traditional patriarchal norms and practices, the women of Afghanistan who are victims of gender-based violence also continue to suffer in silence. Men are given the full authority of power and control over the female body and life of their women folk. The interconnection of family honor and sexual behavior of women is the basis for male control over female mobility and sexuality. The larger public justifies and even celebrates honor killings as a symbol of masculinity and keeping social order. Violence against women is an everyday phenomenon across all classes, sub-cultures and sects.
The home is regarded as the private sphere where family law and legal bodies are reluctant to interfere. Relationships between men and women are based on power and control and it becomes very difficult for a woman to escape these structures if violence occurs within the family – the place which is ironically supposed to be safest! In most cases violence on women including killing are justified as ‘’corrective measures’’ ‘which a man took because he was justifiably ‘provoked’ by the woman’s behavior.
A few women make the move to assert their human rights and seek shelter and support while they can decide on what they need to do next. These women need to be supported. While addressing social biases is possible in the long term, the first steps include providing a safe refuge till the victimized woman can regain her morale and strength to seek legal recourse, reconciliation, or decide on an alternate future for herself and her children. It is not a matter of numbers but a matter of value for women’s human rights. Unfortunately, the state and most NGOs do not find this a development priority.
As part of it objectives to protect the women and girls victim of violence, AWSDC has established a shelter in 2003. Since the start of the shelter a number of 314 victims of violence got refuge. They had different cases such as early and force marriage, physical violence and trafficking etc. some of these victims need short term and some need long term support. But we have to keep them in one building due to non availability of separate place. It is worthwhile to mention that the shelter premises are kept secret and no one can have access except the focal persons of Ministry of Women Affairs, Human Rights Commission and the donors of the shelter.
During the course of time we learnt that keeping the victims of both the categories (need short term and long term support) in one place could make problem for the most dangerous cases and who have to stay in shelter for long term. The victims who come for short period of time may share the whereabouts of the shelter premises and which could result in life threat for the rest.
Keeping in view the possible risks involved to respond to the problem of those victims of violence who need short term support, many of such cases are not accepted and in this way they remain deprived. It is also shared by the family court judge that in most of the cases when the girl comes to get support from family court. The case takes at least three days to be decided but in the meanwhile there is no place to keep her and they have to send her to prison and then in most of the cases the relatives and the family are not ready to take her back as culturally it is considered as a scratch on family honor.
The recently established family unit in police station also shared the same problem that when they receive the case and it need a bit time for reconcile. They have no place for the women and girls to be kept except prison. And in case of sending her to prison, she is not acceptable for her family.
A large number of women in different cases are imprisoned and most of the cases there are not even filed. Sometimes their case are decided in their favor but they are staying in jail as they are neither acceptable for their families nor they have any other place to go. So, they also need shelter and must be supported.
To respond to the problem and avoid any possible threat to the lives of the shelter beneficiaries, as well as to facilitate victims of violence to have access to the shelter facility, the need for establishing a transit shelter is strongly felt.
Besides that the law enforcing agencies also need to be sensitized as in most of the cases they become violators and abusers. It is proposed that to impart training to the police who deal with family unit as well as with other police stations who refer violence cases to the family unit.
A home-like atmosphere where the survivors can have the facility for healing and establishing self-confidence and dignity. Shelter is available for women survivors of violence and displaced children. Care is taken to maintain a culturally appropriate environment and services in a safe, welcoming atmosphere. Counseling, legal advocacy and parent-child cultural and recreational activities all take place while at the shelter.
Services for Resident victims of Violence AWSDC provides a variety of services for the Beneficiaries (women survivors of violence and displaced children) of Khana-e-Aman. The services being offered are as follow;
The Beneficiaries get the facility whenever they need. However a group of specialist doctors visit the shelter twice a week to advice curative measures for prevention of any possible strike of diseases. It also includes awareness on health and hygiene. At the time of admission in the shelter, the Beneficiaries are provided with the facilities of medical tests in order to get informed about any illness that the new comer carries to treat as well as to prevent the rest of the Beneficiaries from possible spread in case of any communicable disease.