UN and Sweden throw a lifeline to domestic violence survivors from Transnistrian region
In the last ten years, about 15,000 calls have been received on the trust line for survivors of domestic violence from Transnistrian region.
Who are the callers and how are they guided, find out in an interview with Oxana Alistratova, director of NGO ”Взаимодействие” (“Interaction”) from Tiraspol, the organization that manages this help line on the left bank of the Nistru River.
The trust line 080099800 has been operating on the left bank of the Nistru for more than ten years, being created with the support of the International Organization for Migration and several development partners.
Since 2019, the One UN Joint Action “Cross-river support for human rights” programme, funded by Sweden, supports this service. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, since November 2020, under the same programme, another help line was launched to facilitation provision of humanitarian assistance to people from socially vulnerable groups from Transnistrian region - Line of Goodness 1165.
- When did you launch the trust line for domestic violence survivors and how did you come up with this idea?
- We launched the trust line for survivors of domestic violence in April 2009, within the organization “Взаимодействие”. Since then, we work every day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., without days off and holidays. Calls for all residents of the Transnistrian region are free, both from a landline and a mobile phone, and assistance is anonymous and confidential. During this period, the trust line became a full social service, offering psychological and legal counselling, advises from social worker, lawyer and, if necessary, medical assistance. Additionally, our specialists help the beneficiaries to meet their necessities, and sometimes, guide them to a shelter in Tiraspol, Căușeni or Chișinău.
We opened this help line because the existing mechanisms at the local level do not allow the full protection for survivors of domestic violence. No protection order is issued, and the person does not feel protected. That is why the trust line is in high demand. Moreover, statistics show that domestic violence makes women emigrate and even accept illegal work.
- Who calls you most often — the survivors, their relatives, or NGOs? How many calls do you have in total?
- Most calls come to us in the first half of the day. Usually, all conflicts take place in the evening, and the next day, when the aggressor leaves for work, the person can seek help. In 70% of the calls there are cases of physical aggression, and 97% — psychological violence. In general, everyone can be a subject of domestic violence, but there are still more women in this situation. 86% of people who called the trust line are women, and 14% are men. The age of people varies from 9 to 83 years, the most vulnerable being women, children, and older people.
According to statistics, in 88% of cases of domestic violence, survivors are the ones that call us. Relatives, parents, or friends are calling as well. Since the opening of the line and until now, we have received over 15,860 calls, 1,043 of them being emergencies.
- How did the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions affect the incidence of violence and the number of calls to the trust line?
- Of course, the pandemic and the restrictions had a considerable social impact, affecting more people from vulnerable groups. The total number of calls on the trust line for the period January-December 2020 is 1801, and in 2019 it was 1430 calls, meaning that it is increasing.
As our statistics and analysis of phone calls show, the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions have led to increased anxiety, various types of depressive disorders and symptoms, worsened phobias, such as fear of getting sick, dying, staying unemployed and without means of subsistence. People spent a lot of time in the family, they got tired of each other, new conflicts arose. Stress has led to outbursts of irritability, aggression, and despair, especially in families prone to aggression. People have also suffered from the economic crisis. We even had calls when we recommended people to call emergency service 102.
Starting with July 2020, in order to meet the needs of people from vulnerable groups during the pandemic, we have opened another humanitarian help line — Line of Goodness 1165, which was created within a grant of the National Coalition “Life without Domestic Violence” (with the financial support of the OAK Foundation). From November 2020, it is operating with the support of One UN Joint Action “Cross-river support for human rights” programme, funded by Sweden. Volunteers from the NGO “Добровольцы - это мы!” (“Volunteers are us!”), initiative groups from villages, non-governmental organizations as well as individuals, are also helping us.
During the pandemic, we were helped by the UN Office for Human Rights, UNDP, UN Women, and the National Coalition “Life without violence”. Thus, 596 people from vulnerable groups — single mothers, survivors of domestic violence and trafficking of human beings, people with disabilities, older people and homeless people from the left bank localities were identified by the staff of the project and packages, containing basic items (food, hygiene products, clothing, footwear) were distributed. The total number of indirect beneficiaries is 1796.
- Where do you refer the information on cases of domestic violence and who continues to manage these cases?
Every month, we provide information on calls to the International Organization for Migration (call statistics, analysis of the situation in the field of domestic violence, data on survivors and actions taken to protect them, information on provided assistance). Also, our partners from Transnistrian region are non-profit organizations and local structures. The information received about the emergencies, with the consent of the caller, is directed to the institutions authorized to solve them.
- Thank you for the interview.
Text: Nicoleta Pădureț, UNDP Moldova
Read here the interview in Russian.