UK, UNFPA, LWU open a new shelter for women victims of violence

The British Embassy in the Lao PDR and UNFPA supported Lao Women’s Union to open a new shelter for women and girl survivors of violence as part of their joint project: “Strengthening gender based violence prevention and response during COVID-19”. The inauguration ceremony took place in Savannakhet province on Dec 15.

Across the country, there are two shelters with one in Vientiane and another one in Savannakhet and two Women Friendly Spaces in Sanamxay district, Attapue.

The opening of this new space increases the capacity of accommodation in Savannakhet, as well as providing essential services such as social, health and legal services, and aims to encourage more women and girl survivors of violence to seek help and leave the cycle of domestic violence and other abusive situations.

The global evidence has shown that crises create a high risk for women’s exposure to violence. Measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as lockdowns, social distancing and other forms of restrictions on movement, also heighten the risk of domestic violence, sexual exploitation and other harmful practices.

Unemployment, economic instability and stress can exacerbate the frequency and severity of abusive behavior. At the same time, the crisis is generating additional barriers for women and girls’ access to essential life-saving services such as counseling and the provision of refuge.

Protection shelters provide a way out for vulnerable women and girls seeking to remove themselves from a violent or unsafe environment.

LWU shelter will offer a holistic approach that includes accommodation, health care, food and clothes for survivors and their children; mental health and psychosocial counselling; life skills; and vocational training.

To strengthen efforts for elimination of violence against women, recently under the leadership of the PM office, all Vice-Governors committed to combat violence against women and girls, including harmful practices.

Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative, reiterated the need to integrate this agenda into the Savanakhet provincial action plan and monitor implementation. “Having access to safe space is a critical factor in a woman or girls decision to escape a violent domestic situation. UNFPA is pleased to partner with the UK government, and LWU so that Savannakhet province can establish and maintain this shelter”.

British Ambassador to the Lao PDR John Pearson said “Preventing Gender Based Violence and supporting gender equality is a key objective for the British Government, both globally and in Laos. In recent years the British Embassy has supported programmes for women and girls through the Lao Rugby Federation, Aide et Action, and Lone Buffalo, amongst others. I am therefore delighted that we are able to support this shelter in Savannakhet, which has the potential to significantly improve the lives of many women and girls”.

Source: Lao News Agency