Rehab Town Proposed for Abused Women

The SWO argues that women in the proposed rehab town will be stigmatized, but proponents say nobody will be forced to settle there
The town’s purpose is to house women who have fallen on hard times and have no social support.The town’s purpose is to house women who have fallen on hard times and have no social support.

A plan to build a special rehabilitation town for women who have suffered from different types of abuse or social harm has received mixed response from experts and authorities.  

The plan, proposed by the Women and Family Office at the Tehran Governorate, was discussed on Saturday in a meeting attended by Hossein Hashemi, governor-general of Tehran, and Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for Women and Family Affairs as well as officials from relevant organizations.

The town’s purpose is to house women who have fallen on hard times and have no social support. These women may suffer from domestic and sexual abuse and have been abandoned by their families. To make ends meet, they resort to all sorts of undesirable activities ranging from theft to prostitution. More often than not, they suffer from severe depression which compels them to abuse drugs and consider suicide.

Voicing support for the scheme, Molaverdi said the proposed rehab town would “differ from shelters for the homeless because it offers rehab services besides caring” ISNA reported.

She said an estimated 20% of women released from jail end up back behind bars, which is four times the global average.

“We need a place to keep and take care of harmed women to prevent their return to jail,” Molaverdi said.

The State Welfare Organization, however, is a staunch opponent of the scheme, arguing that women who take up residence in the town will be stigmatized.

Ahmad Khaki, deputy for social affairs at the SWO, said that his organization is not the alone in opposing the plan as “90% of relevant organizations are against it”.

“Around 20 experts in the field of social harm have studied the plan and rejected it,” he said, without naming names or referencing studies.

“Keeping the women in one place is not the most optimal way of dealing with the problem and will not produce the desired results,” the official said, adding that the SWO is against any coercive measure.

In response, Sorayya Shareghi, director general of women and family affairs at the governor’s office, said women will “not be forced” to settle in the town.

“There are women so desperate that they commit crimes only to be caught and sent to jail so that they have a roof over their heads,” she said, directing strong criticism at the SWO and municipalities poor and ineffective measures.

Furthermore, the SWO says it is also opposed to the governorate’s involvement in the matter.

“There are a number of well-organized NGOs in the country and we must seek cooperation from the people to help empower socially harmed women,” Khaki suggested.

Shareghi, however, defended the governorate’s role, making the point that it has the authority to intervene in any area related to social affairs.

Tehran’s governor also spoke in favor of the idea but stressed that in-depth studies are needed to come up with an appropriate plan to empower socially-harmed women.

“The rehabilitation town is a great idea and will be a remarkable achievement when implemented,” he said.

Mahvash Saberi, director of Andisheh Reshad Charity Organization, also supported the proposal, saying that such a dwelling place is crucial for Tehran with its high number of harmed women.

“The town can even be named ‘Khaneh Talash’ (Persian for house of endeavor),” she was quoted as saying.


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