A regional centre for protection of women survivors of violence was established in Ungheni with the support of Japan and UNDP

January 30, 2024

A centre providing accommodation and rehabilitation for survivors of gender-based violence was opened in Ungheni. The Centre for Assistance and Protection of Women Survivors of Domestic Violence will provide accommodation and assistance for girls and women from Ungheni district and from neighboring districts. The building hosting the shelter was renovated and equipped thanks to a project funded by the Government of Japan through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Ungheni regional centre has a capacity of six rooms (18 beds) and provides accommodation for up to half a year and up to a year in exceptional cases. Accommodation is only one element of the multidimensional services provided, together with legal support, social assistance, psychological and vocational counseling, financial, digital and independent life skills education. About 150 people will benefit from the services of the regional center annually, of which 35 will also be accommodated.

“Japan has been promoting the idea of ‘human security’ in its development and humanitarian assistance. With this concept, we put emphasis on the need to protect the most vulnerable people as well as empower them, so that they can provide for themselves, so that human dignity can be preserved. I hope with all my heart that the access to the regional gender-based violence support will make women and girls feel physically and emotionally secure, by providing a supportive and encouraging environment. Also, I hope that together we can succeed in greatly reducing gender-based violence by empowering vulnerable women and advocating for change,” said Yoichiro Yamada, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Moldova.

The allocated budget of around US$60,000 allowed the transformation of a community center building into a shelter. The space has been renovated and restructured so that it meets quality standards and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Centre's team has been trained to provide quality services to survivors of gender-based violence and other beneficiaries.

“The establishment of the Regional Centre for Assistance and Protection of Women Survivors of Domestic Violence in Ungheni, achieved through the collaborative efforts of local and international partners, brings a sense of relief knowing that it will now offer much needed support to over 150 women survivors of gender-based violence and other forms of abuse. Its multidimensional support, particularly with the implementation of legal, social, and mental health services, as well as a mobile team, is an innovation that fully reflects the comprehensive approach to human security we strive for at UNDP," said Daniela Gasparikova, UNDP Resident Representative to the Republic of Moldova. 

In the Republic of Moldova there is still an insufficiency of accommodation services, especially long-term, for women suffering from violence and for their children, and the geographical coverage of existing services is uneven. The UNDP initiative to support the creation of a specialized center in Ungheni comes as a solution to these two challenges. The center will be subordinated to the Center-West Territorial Agency of Social Assistance, and its activity will be supervised by the recently created National Agency for the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Family Violence, an institution responsible for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of prevention policies and combating violence against women.

"This center is like a refuge. A mayor may call me at night saying there is a mother with children who needs accommodation and we know we can bring her here. Violence is a serious phenomenon and indeed it is a problem for us. The center is very necessary, we will support it, the specialists are already employed by us, the beneficiaries receive financial support from the state, we have very clear procedures. It is important that women from Călăraşi and Nisporeni districts will also be able to be directed here. We are going to promote the Center's services, to strengthen the multidisciplinary teams in the localities so that they know how to refer cases to the Center, and this process is very necessary and beneficial," said Marina Croitoru, Director of the Center-West Territorial Agency of Social Assistance.

With the support of UNDP and the German Government, a mobile team has also been set up to provide services not only in the localities of the Ungheni district but also in those of the Călărași district. Four other mobile teams are supported to operate in different regions of the country.

The mobile team, consisting of a psychologist, a social worker and a legal counsellor, travels to localities and provides individual and group consultations to refugees from Ukraine and women from backgrounds vulnerable to gender-based violence. Complicated cases identified are assisted to resolution, and eligible persons are offered free retraining, digital literacy and entrepreneurship courses. Beneficiaries may also be offered the possibility of co-financing for their businesses, of the salary during the probationary period upon employment and are provided with vouchers for medical services. 

In 2020, UNDP established a regional centre for survivors of gender-based violence in the Găgăuzia region. Local authorities in Găgăuzia have been supported in the creation of 20 multidisciplinary teams which play a key role in both preventing and combating domestic violence by identifying, supporting and referring survivors to existing services.

Gender-based violence continues to be widespread in Moldova. Even though the country has strong policies and a legal framework to prevent and address gender-based violence, the high rate of intimate partner violence (73%) shows the discrepancy between policies and the lived experiences of girls and women. More than a third of women over 15 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from their partner.