AFTURD’s involvement in the care of women vicitms of violence during the lockdown period in Tunisia
The Association of Tunisian Women for Research on Development, AFTURD, is a referent key actor in the fight of violence against women in Tunisia. Within the framework of the MedTOWN project, it will develop a co-produced model of social housing for women victimsof gender violence in transition flats.
The period of crisis we are experiencing (Covid19 pandemic) and the confinement at home have unfortunately created a breeding ground for the resurgence of domestic violence in Tunisia as well as in other countries. Statistics from the Green Line of the Tunisian Ministry of Women, Family, Childhood and Seniors (MFFES) show that the current number of reported assaults against women has increased fivefold compared to the same period in 2019.
Since the state of confinement was decreed (23rd March 2020), AFTURD has expressed to the MFFES its concern about the situation of women victims of violence (WVV) who are in need of protection, but who could no longer access the WVV shelters. In particular, AFTURD expressed to the MFFES its full readiness to contribute on a voluntary basis to the care of WVV in a new containment centre.
Thus, on the 6th of April, the MFFES, with the support of UNFPA and in partnership with AFTURD, opened a new emergency shelter for WVV; including 10 containment spaces for a minimum period of 14 days, as a preventive measure against Covid19 prior to accommodation in a special centre. In parallel, a good coordination with various stakeholders has been established, in particular with the special unit for combating crimes of violence against women in the Ministry of the Interior and the Ben Arous regional police station for women, families and children.
AFTURD has mobilised a team of 7 volunteers for this action who have received prior training on the Covid19. Among their tasks are to welcome new women and inform them about the rules of living in the centre during the quarentine; provide them and their children with basic necessities (clothing, toiletries, products, soap, medicines, etc), listen to their problems, monitor their health and whether they need to receive additional specialized psychological help, inform them about the existing laws on combating violence, provide them awareness about Covid19 and make sure that all the spaces and the equipment in the centre are disinfected properly and are safe of use.
In addition, AFTURD also follows up on each resident’s case together with the services of the Special Unit for Combating Crimes of Violence against Women of the Ministry of the Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in order to assert their rights. It also covers the costs of medical monitoring, transfers to hospital while at the same time fights for the better access to health and free medical care for VVF.
Last but not least, it is important to mention, that AFTURD provides advocacy in cooperation with other institutional partners, in order to safeguard WVV rights according to the Law (Article 26, Law 58-2017) and more precisely their right to stay at home and away from their aggressor. Due to Covid19 and the closure of courts, many cases on gender violence have been freeze up increasing as a result the risk of further violence and abuse.