Adequate resources and services for those who are victims of violence are essential to implementing laws on violence against women. These services and resources often are mandated by the law itself. While awareness raising, education and the work of public officials and professionals help create the global and societal changes necessary to curb violence, individual victims will still require direct and personalized attention. Through specialized services women obtain the assistance and tools required to claim their right to a life free from violence. Services for victims also facilitate prosecution of offenders by providing support to the key witness – the victim herself.
The following general principles should be points of reference for all provision of services to victims of gender-based violence:
- Promote the well-being, physical safety and economic security of victims/survivors and enable women to overcome the multiple consequences of violence to rebuild their lives;
- Ensure that victims/survivors have access to appropriate services and that a range of support options are available that take into account the particular access needs of women facing multiple discrimination;
- Ensure that service providers are skilled, gender-sensitive, have ongoing training and conduct their work in accordance with clear guidelines, protocols and ethics codes and, where possible, provide female staff;
- Ensure accessibility of support to all women including those with disabilities, literacy, or language barriers;
- Maintain the confidentiality and privacy of the victim/survivor;
- Cooperate and coordinate with all other services for victims/survivors of violence
- Monitor and evaluate the services provided;
- Reject ideologies that excuse or justify men’s violence or blame victims; and
- Empower women to take control of their lives.
See: UN Secretary-General’s In-depth Study on all Forms of Violence Against Women, 91 (2006).
Some of the major categories of victim services include:
- Physical and mental health services;
- Hotlines and helplines;
- Short and long-term shelter;
- Legal aid & court accompaniment; and
- Economic empowerment.