The members of SI Izmir recognise that violence against women is a basic violation of human rights, and is a serious social problem that very often arises from within the family (husband, brother, father), in Turkey as in other nations.
The elimination of violence against women cannot be accomplished overnight. It is therefore necessary to provide continuous support to the victim/survivors of violence. Safe houses and women’s shelters, provided by the government, are important components of this support.
To demonstrate their sincere concern, the Izmir Soroptimist Club decided to support one of the shelters within their municipality. This facility can shelter up to thirty women and a like number of children per month; in a single year, about 360 women and 345 children receive support from this shelter.
The project aims to improve the living conditions of the women and children who have sought refuge in such houses within our province, educating them with regard to their legal rights and how to deal with the violence to which they have been subjected, and enabling them to live productive lives in the future.
The psycho-social needs of the women and children who are being sheltered in such facilities are being addressed through legal counselling regarding their rights and problems, education in parent-child relationships and child psychology, and basic socialization.
Members (and friends) whose experience and professional expertise is particularly helpful to these women and their children regularly visit the facility, providing both formal instruction and informal exchange and social support. In response to their needs and desires, with the advice of the administrators of the shelters, members also organize various social and cultural activities away from the facility: tours, concerts, theatre, cinema, zoo trips, etc.
As women prepare to move out of the shelter into a new life, SI Izmir provides some of the basic essentials for setting up housekeeping on their own in order to support their self-confidence.
At the beginning of this project (2006), after obtaining permission from the government and social service authorities, Soroptimists furnished the second floor of a building designated to be a women’s shelter with carpets, laundry machines, curtains, kitchen equipment, beds, cribs and infant clothing.
When the shelter was moved to another part of the city, they continued support in the new location, and this continues.
In summary, in 2011-12 (as in the previous years), the Izmir Soroptimist Club has provided:
- regular monthly legal consultation by an attorney member of the club to a total of 250 women;
- regular psychological counseling to help overcome feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, inferiority, guilt, shame and fear and enable the building of self-confidence and self-respect to 200 women and 100 children;
- psychotherapy for a woman and her four children who were victims of severe violence (this was provided by an Ege University staff psychiatrist at a cost of US$ 400.);
- annual new year party and periodic tea parties with members of the club (US$ 300);
- outings to entertainment venues (theatre, concert, etc.);
- books, toys and clothing for the resident children and young women each month (US$1200);
- furnishings for the new homes of four women and their children as they left the shelter (US$ 15000);
- a venue was provided for the sale of items produced by the resident women (from materials provided by the club);
- a machine previously bought by the club to make galoshes (plastic shoe covers) continued to be used by the residents, and members of the club participated in marketing the finished products. These income-generating projects netted a total of US$ 1900 for 48 women residents of the shelter.
- Depression is a constant problem for abused women. To address this reality, a member of the club who is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Dokuz Eylul University, together with two assistants, brought a program of guided exercise to the shelter. The program, which served 21 women, was enormously successful, and will be continued. The cost was US$ 480.
In short, 360 women and 345 children have benefitted from the activities listed above during the period 1 October 2011 – September 30 2012.
During the Soroptimist year US$17,500 was raised to fund the work.
The support came both from the Izmir Soroptimist Club budget and individual donations from members and sponsors.
The project has assisted women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence and been damaged, physically and psychologically, on the road to recovery of self-worth and, indeed, to a new and better life. The benefits of the project have been observed and attested to by the administration of the facility and participating members of the club. We plan to extend, and expand, such services in the future.