Protection and Counseling: Safe House for Women at Risk

Project Name: Safe House for Women at Risk  
Project Type: Protection and Counseling
Project Location: Kabul
Duration of Project: Since February 2004
Donor of Project: Previous Donors (Foundation Belessario, UNHCR, ASDHA) and Current Donors (UNIFEM Afghanistan and ICS
Status of Project: Ongoing

HAWCA’s Safe House for women at risk project has been established in February 2004 in closed collaboration with MoWA, Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and  by financial support of  Foundation Belessario (an Italian Foundation) in the first year, UNHCR and Rights and Democracy for the second year and for the year 2006 UNHCR has been the only donor for HAWCA’s Safe House, while there has been in kind support from European Commission’s Kabul Office as well as some small donations of HAWCA supporters. For the year of 2007 the project financing is divided to UNHCR, ASDHA (Spain) and equipment and training section for an Italian local authority called ICS. The project started to work, while different categories of women and girls were in a real need of finding a protection. HAWCA after negotiating with different stakeholders decided to work on this very highly sensitive area and defend the rights of victims of violence. The Safe House, although in the Afghan context it is new, but based on President Karzai’s Decree no. 104 MoWA  was given the task to look for a  safe place to protect those women at risk and female prisoners who finish their punishment time and do not have a place to stay.HAWCA defines Safe House for women at risk as a temporary housing/ protection for those women or girls who have been abuse physically, psychological or mentally by family members, powerful communities members, warlords, officials or any,  and has not committed crime and need protection and those women who have no house to live (a temporary protection solution).
The women and girls at risk are being introduced to the safe house through MoWA and Independent Human Right Commission and UNHCR. It shoud be deteted as now we are only receiving women through MOWA

Once under protection, HAWCA consider the women and girls at risk as its project beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are provided in the safe house accommodation, three times meal a day, cloths, medical assistance, education, vocational training and awareness about their rights, civilian rights and violence against women as well as counseling on legal rights.

HAWCA as a committed women headed organization did its best in supporting women at risk. The safe house receives beneficiaries from different provinces and sometimes from Iran and Pakistan as well, HAWCA policy is to promote tolerance among the beneficiaries and tries to assist them to learn about the basic values of democracy and human rights while living in the same environment. The beneficiaries are related to different tribes, families and religious, but the management staffs of safe house are behaving them equally and empower them with the sense of cooperation with each other at all time.

Safe house for women at risk is newly implemented during the last years, after establishment of interim government in Afghanistan. The number of safe houses are growing and there are one safe house in Heart province, 2 in Kabul supported by UNHCR and one in Mazar province is established this year by CCA.  

The project implementation is carried out with collaboration of MoWA, donor organizations, UN agencies, civil society, security authorities, and legal authorities.

In the start of the project and years after there was not a mechanism for safe houses. After implementation of the project it was felt that a mechanism is needed and HAWCA raise this issue with its partners such as UNHCR and MoWA and finally HAWCA and AWSDC was given the task to draft a protocol for the safe houses and collect and enrich the protocol with the comments and then submitted to UNIFEM to work together with MoWA. It took two years to sing this protocol by MoWA and finally a CCC meeting was held in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on 14/05/07 and the safe houses protocol was approved and signed between MoWA and Safe House implementing organizations.  

This year training programs (literacy course and human/women right, violence against women and hygienic/health information) for the beneficiaries were carried out. On 14/05/07 a meeting was held in MoWA and the safe houses protocol was approved and signed between MoWA and shelter implementing organizations. The purpose of this protocol was to give more legal support to safe house for its present in Afghanistan.

There other progressive activities this year: a psychologist from Medica Mondaile comes to safe house every Tuesday and works with beneficiaries individually. This psychologist also gives lectures to these beneficiaries. She also practices very light psychological exercises with beneficiaries in order to get relax and for the relief of muscle’s pain.  

A part time doctor is coming to the safe house and treats the ill beneficiaries. Besides treating the patients, the doctor gives health training to beneficiaries also like childcare, vaccination and etc.