Amnesty International

Paraguay: Urgent Need for Shelters for Women  & Girl Victims of Violence

The 'Hogar de los Entusiastas' shelter in Paraguay - the kitchen
The 'Hogar de los Entusiastas' shelter in Paraguay - the kitchen
© AI

Violence against women and girls in the family is one of the most serious problems facing Paraguay. A 2002 report by the UN Development Programme estimated that it accounts for some 25 per cent of violent crime in the country with girls being particularly affected: 50 per cent of the cases of violence against girls also include sexual violence. In more than a third of cases the abuser is known to the victim.

Despite the scale of the problem, there are no state institutions providing shelter for women who experience violence. This makes it virtually impossible for women to escape violent relationships and puts many women and their families at ongoing risk.

In 2005 the Women’s State Secretary of Paraguay signed an agreement to refer women at risk of violence to a church-based organization called the Hogar gratuito los entusiastas (The Enthusiasts Free Shelter). The shelter was set up to provide a safe place, food and accommodation for women fleeing violence. However, it is woefully under-funded.

Teodora Cabrera, the director of Hogar gratuito los entusiastas, told Amnesty International that the shelter gets no financial support from the Paraguayan authorities. The hostel is wholly dependent on donations from individuals and the people running it. She acknowledges that the hostel does not have the resources to provide the kind of comprehensive support the women need. The hostel lacks basic facilities as well as the kind of services needed to put fractured lives back together, such as psychologists, medical staff and medicines, and social workers.

The authorities urgently need to set up refuges so women and children in Paraguay facing violence can find safety. They also need to develop their work with women’s rights organizations to increase the number of refuges and improve those that already exist. Paraguay must meet the obligations it has agreed to under CEDAW and Belem do Para.

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