TUNISIA: JHR supports Women Ministry’s launch of five new shelters for GBV survivors

In southern Tunisia, survivors of gender-based violence have had limited options for escaping their abuser. Refuge centers that allow people fleeing domestic violence to be sheltered at least temporarily are not found in all cities and areas. A culture of shame around seeking support against abusers further complicates survivors’ access to shelters.

During a roundtable series organized by JHR, Tunisian journalists discussed ways to improve the local coverage of gender-based violence and recommended that the lack of state-funded shelters needs to be better highlighted in the media. In subsequent conversations with the Ministry of Family, Women, Children and the Elderly, JHR developed a media mobilization plan to support the Ministry’s efforts to establish new shelters in the southern region.

JHR initiated a training series in Tunisia’s southern cities, including Gabes, Tataouine, Tozeur, Kairouan and Jendouba. We supported journalists to produce stories on gender-based violence in local communities, the epidemic of violence that accompanied Covid-19 lockdowns, and the importance of shelters for survivors. The media content also discussed the stigmatization of women who file GBV complaints. We also trained local women’s rights organizations on gender principles, concepts of gender-based violence, and protection mechanisms for GBV survivors.

This surge of stories around GBV stimulated public support for the Ministry’s funding of five new shelters. When the shelters finally became ready for operation, JHR supported a media series titled ‘Ihmini/Protect me’ where news outlets shared the new shelters’ information and locations.

Currently, these new shelters have more than 50 beds in addition to children’s safe spaces. The shelters provide protection services, including temporary safe residence, medical services, psychological therapy, social and economic empowerment, and legal aid. These shelters represent a significant positive step for the protection of GBV survivors in southern Tunisia.

A training session for CSOs organized by JHR in Tunisia

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