Violence against women is so pronounced that it has been equated to a war on women. The impact of this violence however affects everyone in society and must be addressed at all levels. In the long term, the financial and the societal costs in terms of the impact of violence are far more debilitating and resource-intensive than investing in services (such as shelters) to address it.
Shelters contribute significantly to women being able to find ways of exiting from abusive relationships. They provide a safe place to stay, psycho-social support, access to medical and paralegal services, skills development initiatives, and services to children. Shelter services to victims of domestic violence thus play a critical role in the care economy. Unfortunately, much of the services provided by the care economy are under-valued and under-resourced.
This policy brief draws on research conducted by the HBF and NSM on shelter services and the extent to which government (particularly the Department of Social Development in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western and Gauteng) is providing adequate recourse to victims of domestic violence insofar as it relates to the provision of these services.
The brief concludes with a summary of the areas of policy reform that should be prioritised for the adequate funding of shelter services.