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Frontpage News 2011 Shelters for victims of domestic violence in Slovakia


Shelters for victims of domestic violence in Slovakia

Norway Grants will fund the establishment of shelters for victims of domestic and gender-based violence in all of Slovakia’s self-governing regions. A shelter in Bratislava is already providing care and comfort to 36 people, mainly women and children.

In a modest building on the outskirts of Bratislava, eight young children gather in an activity room for painting and craftwork and the room is filled with talk and laughter. The adults provide encouragements and helpful advice. Everyone seems to be happy and at ease. Artwork created by the children, decorate the walls of corridors and rooms.

In another part of the building, adults gather for a weekly community meeting where they calmly discuss issues and solve difficulties. But these people have not always been in such safe and calm environments. They all come from tragic circumstances, whether they are from families marked by everyday acts of violence, or from families in other forms of serious crises.

"As a family in crisis we are very happy to be here", says one of the mothers we meet. In the shelter established with the support of the EEA and Norway Grants, they are taken care of in safe and stable environments, with social workers and psychiatrists at hand.

The shelter houses children and women, but also a few families where violence is not the issue. People are accepted for up to six months. And the aim is to help them back to a normal life. In the case of victims of violence, they are helped to start new lives outside the reach of their former perpetrators.

"We are very grateful for this support, but there are still great needs", says Director Miriam Jamriskova. In Slovakia, as in other European countries, a large group of women and children are still victims of domestic violence. It is estimated that one in five Slovak women suffer from violence at least once during their adult lives.

The Norway Grants is dedicating around €20 million to combating domestic and gender-based violence, of which €7 million will be used in Slovakia. The plan is to establish shelters for victims of domestic and gender-based violence in all eight of Slovakia’s self-governing regions.

There will also be funding to training of social workers and officials that meet victims in the first line of assistance, in order to raise awareness and competence when it comes to the complexity of these issues and how to deal with it. "This is very important in order to safeguard the interests and the dignity of the victims", says Lucia Zitnanska, Slovak Minister of Justice.