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Canada funds UNDP, UNFPA project to help victims of sexual violence in Sri Lanka

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ECONOMYNEXT – National guidelines for the management of shelters for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) were recently launched by the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment, following Cabinet approval.

The guidelines are a collaborative effort by the Ministry, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, and a key component of the ‘Enabling Access to Justice for Victim-Survivors of SGBV in Sri Lanka’ project, a joint initiative with UNDP and UNFPA Sri Lanka, with funding from the Government of Canada.

The guidelines will establish a State-led management system to register, monitor, and enhance the quality of services for victims, particularly those experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) or domestic violence (DV), seeking refuge in shelters.

“The Ministry will use this yardstick to ensure that these services are monitored and managed in line with the stipulated standards,” Director Women’s Bureau of the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment Champa Upasena said.

The initiative will provide a regulatory framework for assessing and enhancing shelter services provided by both state and private entities, the UNDP said in a statement.

Management and monitoring structures will be established at the divisional, district, and national levels, involving existing government officials such as secretaries to relevant line ministries, representatives from the National Women’s Commission, Women’s Bureau, Police, and Probation Services.

“Through the social dialogues that have accompanied the mobile gender exhibition supported by the Government of Canada, it has become clear that women and girls face greater risks at home, and are often left with inadequate support due to shortages of shelters and their lack of ability to provide a comprehensive support package,” Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka Azusa Kubota said.

“The cascading crisis that the Sri Lankan community has faced has elevated the relevance of the guidelines and it is our sincere hope that they will be a critical step towards ensuring that victim-survivors of SGBV have access to safe and supportive shelter services.”

“Most often violence against women comes from family members and intimate partners, so they need a place to go to when they leave their home,” Minister Geetha Kumarasinghe said recently.

Temporary detention centres for abused women have been established in Gampaha, Ratnapura, Colombo, Matara, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Monaragala, and Nuwara Eliya districts.

The UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry, will conduct a nationwide assessment of all shelters against the new guidelines.

The assessment will serve as a foundation for operationalizing the guidelines at the national and sub-national levels. (Colombo/Apr3/2024)

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