Family Violence Shelter has Only 1 Guest in 15 Months

Pan Zheng
March 10, 2011

SINCE Chongqing, a municipality in southwestern China, opened its first domestic violence shelter 15 months ago, only one woman has stayed there, Chongqing Morning News reported yesterday.

The shelter, run by the Beibei District Women’s Association, is located inside the Beibei Women and Children’ Activity Center. It has bright rooms with big windows and all necessary supplies.

Hu Yan, a worker at the shelter home, said their first and only guest, named Wu Lan, checked in on March 5 last year. The 39-year-old woman had been married for 10 years but her husband beat her all the time, especially after their six-year-old son died in an accident.

“She came crying loudly with scars on her head and arms,” Hu recalled.

With help from the women’s association, the woman finally got divorced with her husband and left the shelter to start a new life.

“She is the only one so far,” Hu told the newspaper. “Some people wanted to stay here, but their conditions didn’t fit.” Hu said there is a misconception about the domestic violence shelter. Many people think it is an aid station for people in poverty.

“We only accept women who are suffering family violence and are homeless,” Hu said. “Anyone who meets these two criteria can apply to stay here.”

In Hu’s opinion, fewer guests mean improved public awareness of women’s rights. “We are the last resort. Prevention is the best solution.”

“For us, the fewer guests the better,” said Wang Chunyan, president of Beibei Women’s Association. “But we’re always ready to accept women escaping family violence,” she was quoted as saying.