Shelters for Vulnerable Women

Shelters for Vulnerable WomenShelters for Vulnerable Women

More than 240 cities in 18 provinces have social emergency centers affiliated to the State Welfare Organization (SWO) as well as temporary safe shelters, to house and support victims of domestic violence and abuse, and runaway girls and women.

“It is unfortunate that due to the lack of adequate publicity, many women are not aware of the emergency centers and the social services they offer,” said Hassan Mousavi Chalek, head of the Iranian Social Workers Association.

“While the process of establishing the safe shelters started 16 years ago, abused women who seek refuge are few. The fear of disgrace, misconceived cultural beliefs and a ‘dependence personality’ are among reasons why many women avoid seeking refuge, and prefer to remain in an abusive relationship,” the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’, quoted him as saying.

Some of the women believe that if they continue to show patience the violence and abuse will stop. “But they simply don’t understand that nothing they do will change their abusive partner,” he added.   

Currently, there are four safe shelters in the northern, southern, eastern and central parts of the capital and each has a capacity to house 30 women. “Women admitted to the shelters are tested for HIV and hepatitis as well as drug addiction. They should be free from these conditions to be admitted.”

Stating that the day after admission the women should be sent to court and the judge determines how long they can live in the shelters, Chalek said, “Although it is usually between 21 and 41 days, but upon a request, the centers usually keep the women for a longer period, till such time they are able to find a job or a safe place to live.”

All services provided at the shelters are completely free.

  Separate for Kids

He said children are not admitted to the shelters along with their mothers and they should be handed over to boarding homes where they can reside and attend school. Once the abused women find a job and a safe place to reside, the children are returned to their mothers.

“The quality of services at the shelters is acceptable in Tehran Province; however, 13 of the 31 provinces in the country lack safe shelters for women,” said Hossein Asad Beigi, head of the Social Emergency Organization. “Given the increasing rate of domestic violence, the number of shelters should be extended to more provinces.”

Zohreh Arzani, lawyer and women’s rights activist also said it is unfortunate that many of the women who report victimization to the police, overnight change their stand and claim their problem has been resolved, due to the threats they receive from relatives.

She expressed hope that the cases would be perused legally even if the women take their complaints back due to the threats.

  Meth-Related Domestic Abuse

Many of the domestic abusers are crystal meth addicts, and the number of murders committed by people addicted to crystal meth is truly frightening. The abusers are both women and men, but the number of male addicts is higher.

The most persistent psychotic symptoms of meth abuse include violent behavior, paranoia, and hallucinations and many addicts don’t even remember what they do during their hallucinatory infestations.

According to a recent study, 84% of families with a member addicted to crystal meth have experienced some kind of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and 43% have experienced extremely severe physical violence. Also, annually around 1.1% of extreme physical abuses result in death of a family member. About 58% of the victims are women and 36% are children, Kourosh Mohammadi, an addiction researcher told IRNA.

Dr Mehdi Saberi, a board member of the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO) also said that methamphetamine-related changes in brain function commonly produce an increased sense of paranoia in an affected individual.

  1.5m Drug Abusers

The changes can lead to an exaggerated belief that “my family members are trying to physically hurt or injure me,” or “my spouse is cheating on me.” Specific threats that a paranoid person may mistakenly perceive include a belief that someone is spreading false rumors; a belief that someone intends to steal money, or damage or steal property, he said.  

“Depending on the individual and the type of paranoid thinking in progress, the outcome of these beliefs can be domestic violence, abusive behaviors, homicide, etc,” he added.

 According to figures released by the national Campaign Against Drug-Trafficking Headquarters, annually 80 tons of industrial drugs are consumed in the country and almost one-third of the drug addicts use industrial drugs.

After opium, crystal meth (22%) is the most commonly abused drug. Official figures say there are 1.5 million addicts in the country, but the actual figure is said to be much higher.