Sick women and children who have been forced to leave their homes because of domestic violence should be accommodated in hotels or hostels during the ongoing coronavirus emergency situation, Estonian Women's Shelters Union (Eesti Naiste Varjupaikade Liit) believes.
The head of the Estonian Women's Shelters Union (ENVL) Eha Reitelmann and 10 regional women's support center representatives wrote an appeal to the Ministry of Social Affairs regarding domestic violence victims and the Health Board's (Terviseamet) requirements for self-quarantining.
It said: "Regarding domestic violence cases, the obvious solution should be removing the violent party and leaving women and children showing symptoms in a familiar environment. By removing sick victims from their homes will inevitably spread the virus and jeopardise the health and lives of many people."
Support centers generally use rental apartments in large apartment buildings to offer safe accommodation. However, moving potentially infected clients to private apartments or centers risk the health and lives of other residents, ERR's online news in Estonian writes.
By using private means to transport clients showing symptoms, support center staff risk infecting both themselves and their family members. Using public transport can, however, be dangerous to all nearby people.
In addition, no ENVL support center has necessary protective equipment, such as masks, gloves or strong disinfectants, to work with people who are sick or suspected to be sick, because they are not available on the open market.
In conclusion, the current emergency situation has reinforced concern about support centers not being able to provide safe accommodation to all clients when renting apartments, representatives write in the appeal.
As a potential solution, the representatives believe that suspected sick or already confirmed sick women and children who have been forced to leave their homes because of domestic violence should be accommodated in hotels or hostels during the current emergency situation. In addition, guidance services should only be provided by telecommunicating.
"This would only make sense in larger cities, e.g. Tallinn and Tartu, because most establishments providing accommodation have already been closed in smaller cities. Support center staff cannot transport sick victims of domestic violence, this should be arranged centrally and done by using special transport," the representatives added.
Editor: Anders Nõmm