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Tajik Shelters Extend Help To Battered Women, Families


http://gdb.rferl.org/631f9087-d4ae-4a92-b452-f18e2890e1be_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/631f9087-d4ae-4a92-b452-f18e2890e1be_mw800_mh600.jpg (RFE/RL) August 29, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Authorities in northern Tajikistan have announced plans to donate part of a local hospital to a shelter for battered women.


A local women's support group, Gulrukhsor, used U.S. funding to launch the shelter, the first of its kind in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.


Since it opened two years ago, the facility in the city of Khujand has offered temporary shelter, medical assistance, counseling, and legal advice to dozens of women. Organizers also set up a 24-hour domestic-violence hotline.


Nazira Ghafforova, the head of the national Committee for Women's Affairs in Sughd province, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that domestic violence is not uncommon in Tajikistan, but its victims seldom seek help.


"Women who have become victims of domestic violence must approach the relevant authorities, including law-enforcement agencies. But sometimes these women hesitate to do so -- perhaps they don't want others to know about them being victims of violence," Ghafforova said.


However, victims are more willing to approach nongovernmental centers than law-enforcement officials, she said.


At least 60 women have sought help at the Khujand facility, which can house up to 12 individuals at a time. They have included victims of physical abuse or rape, as well as women facing family crises or suffering from psychological problems.


More than 700 calls have poured in to the Khujand hotline, many of them from men seeking counseling or legal advice.


The same women's group, Gulrukhsor, recently teamed up with local authorities in the nearby district of Ghafurov to open a second shelter for battered women. It can accommodate up to four women at a time.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report


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