Violence in partnership: women's shelter in need

WWhat Heike Herold wishes is indignation. About the fact that last year 122 women were killed by their partner or former partner. Or outrage that violence against women in Germany is so widespread that dark field studies assume that every third person has ever been beaten, injured or raped.

Anna-Lena Niemann

Julia Schaaf

Julia Schaaf

Editor in the department "Life" of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Herold is managing director of the association "Frauenhauskoordinierung" and part of the network "stronger than violence", which went online on Monday, the International Day Against Violence against Women. On the same day, Federal Minister of Family Affairs Franziska Giffey (SPD) presented figures that she called "alarming": At least once a hour, a woman in Germany was physically injured. Every day there is a murder attempt. In 2018, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, 140,755 people were affected by violence in their partnership, 81.3 percent of whom are women. The family minister made it clear, however, that men would also be victims of violent partners. While the statistic for the past year listed 324 female victims of attempted or completed homicide, it counted 97 male. Giffey said it needed counseling and support services for both sexes.

Compared to the previous year, the number of homicides has fallen. For some years, however, the official numbers of those who become victims of violence in their partnership are increasing. However, experts like Herold see something good in this – it also means that more and more people are willing to make visible the violence against them, to use emergency telephones, to call the police or to visit a women's shelter.

120 million euros for women's shelters

But especially in women's shelters, which are often the last resort for those affected, the offer is not better, but worse, says Herold. To protect victims of violence in an acute emergency situation, a legal claim to a place in the women's shelter would be "desirable" according to Giffey, and this is exactly what Herold demands. However, the minister said: "This is a task for the future, which can not be fulfilled at the moment." There are 350 women's shelters in Germany with a total of 7,000 places, but the need is 20,000. Some parts of the country or places are still like "white spots" on the map of the aid offers. Giffey announced that in the federal budget of 2020, over the next four years, 30 million euros would be earmarked for the expansion of women's shelters and counseling centers.

"We welcome the fact that the federal government is following this path," says Herold, "but this money is not intended for running costs." But that is exactly the problem. "We know of women's shelters that had to close because the funding was not enough." At the same time, the houses were often too poorly equipped. So even if there is a place available on the spot, at some times there is simply not enough staff on the spot to do the consultation and initial reception. "The activists who built the women's shelters are gradually retiring," explains Herold, and new jobs often remain unoccupied for a long time.

Women's shelters are usually also occupied on weekends and at night – but that's exactly what more and more staff is missing. "But crises do not just happen during normal opening hours," says Herold. The promised 120 million euros do not change this, because they finance the development of rooms and houses, but not secure the running costs.

So far, only the states and municipalities are responsible for women's shelters, but committed to nothing. For years, there are reports that affected women would have to be rejected again and again, because the houses are simply crowded. And if a place is free, the houses could still not accommodate every woman, because the funding of the places then becomes problematic if the victims come from another state or under the Social Code have no benefit claims, as Herold explains. EU citizens, students or asylum seekers can not always take the protection that they actually need.

"That in Germany, one of the richest countries, we do not have a place for every woman who needs one is a scandal," says Gesa Birkmann. She works for the women's rights organization "Terre des Femmes", where she deals primarily with domestic and sexual violence in partnerships. The political signals from Berlin welcomes them, yet the numbers showed that legally anchored gender equality is far from being a reality everywhere.

Violence against women in the partnership often stems from such men, who are characterized by patriarchal structures and tried to take themselves within their relationship by force, which would otherwise supposedly be influenced, according to Birkmann. And yet you have already come a long way. Heike Herold hopes that the topic will take off – thanks to many young, feminist activists.

. (tagsToTranslate) Heike Herold (t) Franziska Giffey (t) SPD (t) BKA (t) Police (t) Women (t) Women 's shelter

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