Shelters A Safe Haven For Women, Children


EVIDENCE highlight that most cases of violence against women and children turn to shelter programs as their last resort.

This was highlighted by Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa while speaking at the Development of the Fiji National Gender Based Violence Shelter Standards workshop held in Suva recently.

Minister Vuniwaqa said women survivors can stay with friends or relatives, secure their own homes so that they feel safe living there either temporarily or permanently, and these choices are generally deemed more desirable and less traumatic for survivors and their children.

“Unfortunately, researchers had identified through research findings that many women lack the social and economic resources to choose any of these options, and for them a shelter is their best alternative.”

“Shelters are a critical component of a holistic response to survivors. Shelters provide a form of secure accommodation for survivors providing essential aspects of protection, services and resources which enable women who have experienced abuse and their child/children to recover from the violence, to rebuild self-esteem, and to take steps to regain a self-determined and independent life.”

Minister Vuniwaqa adds the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, called on States to “provide well-funded shelters and relief support for girls and women subjected to violence, as well as medical, psychological and other counselling services and free or low-cost legal aid, where it is needed, as well as appropriate assistance to enable them to find a means of subsistence”.

“We could agree that shelters in Fiji must be governed by regulations that uphold the highest ethical standards for safety and quality care and remains an area that requires our collaborative efforts.”

“The development of national regulations for women’s shelters in Fiji will help ensure that GBV services that are available are of quality, are properly-resourced and are appropriately aligned with core guidelines.”

Minister Vuniwaqa further added that as it is anticipated that this meet will guide the development of effective partnerships between shelters and other service providers (i.e. community stakeholders, police, child welfare agency, ministries etc.), and document shelter practices to create evidence and demonstrate shelters’ contributions to women and girls’ lives.

“I wish to emphasise that promoting and protecting the rights of affected persons, including the right to be safe from gender-based violence is central to our work. By acting on the insight and experience captured in this two day workshop in the development of the Fiji National Gender Based Violence Shelter Standards, we can make a difference for the most vulnerable, helping always to protect their safety and dignity. We owe that to them and we must give it to them.”