Full refuges reject five battered women a day

Full refuges reject five battered women a day
File photo: TT
Women's shelters in Sweden remain under pressure with a new report indicating that five women a day were turned away in 2014 due to over-crowding.
At the same time, the number of women seeking help after being exposed to so-called wife import and honour-related violence increased.
Some 38 percent more women sought help last year at one of the country's shelters in comparison with 2013, according to new statistics from the National Organization for Women's and Girls' Shelters in Sweden (Roks).
Lack of available space led to the shelters being forced to reject an average of five women every day.
"This carries major consequences for the women. We know that when the woman finally takes the step (to seek help), the risk of violence increases," said Roks president Karin Svensson.
The reason for the chronic lack of space is that women living in shelters find it difficult to move on to independent housing, in part due to housing shortages in some municipalities and also due to economic pressures.
These pressures are exacerbated by men ordering things in the woman's name without paying, or claiming to have paid a bill on her behalf when in fact it has been thrown away.
This in turn leads to problems for the women with regards to credit history and thus borrowing money, Karin Svensson explained.
The number of women who sought help after being exposed to honour-related violence nearly doubled last year, and the number of women victims of so-called wife import more than tripled.
"We have worked to educate staff at the shelters of the specific vulnerabilities of certain groups and how we can extend help to more people and it has paid off," Svensson said.
The government's spring budget promised more support to the non-profit shelters, a move welcomed by Roks. The organization would however liked to see the funds become permanent. 
"Shelters currently have a fairly solid financial situation, but investments are hampered because it is difficult to assess the longer term," Karin Svensson said.
A total of 18,803 women and girls sought help at Roks' 110 shelters in 2014, compared with 17,144 the previous year.
An average of around 200 women and children spend the night at one of the shelters.
1858 women were turned away from shelters in 2014, which is about the same number as in 2013, but nearly 500 more than in 2011.
The number of applicants for assistance to victims of wife import increased from 340 to nearly 1,200 in 2014.
The number of applicants for aid to victims of honor-related violence rose from 626 to 1,128.