GNWS webinar #7 “Fundraising to Keep Shelters Going during COVID-19”

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The seventh webinar in the GNWS series during the COVID-19 pandemic was on the topic of “Fundraising to Keep Shelter Services Going During a Public Health Crisis” on 6 May 2020 at 6:00 PM Washington, DC time.

Speakers

  • Cindy Southworth – NNEDV
  • Kaitlin Geiger-Bardswich – Women’s Shelters Canada
  • Ana Cruz – Asociacion Calidad de Vida (Honduras)
  • Riekje Kok – The Netherlands
  • Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi – Nigeria
  • Ang Jury – New Zealand

Delivering a consistent message and finding funders who identify with your cause are keys to funding at NNEDV. Cindy Southworth says it is important to first build a relationship with potential corporate donors by offering expert advice, tips on protecting staff who may be subjected to violence at home, and creating a peer partnership. NNEDV has seen an increase in funding during the COVID-19 crisis. Cindy added that a Facebook donation account is a useful source of revenue.

The Canadian National Network has seen a doubling in donations during COVID-19, with many new donors offering support. Kaitlin Bardswich said this was largely due to the Network’s high media profile in recent week, with the executive director appearing on television to talk about the issue of domestic violence during lockdown. The Network has been quoted in the media, published press releases, launched “make a mask” and “Giving Tuesday” campaigns, and worked on social media initiatives including Twitter storms by asking celebrities to share tweets. The Canadian government has also been very supportive, offering additional funding to support shelters.

The situation is very different in Honduras, where shelters are at capacity but lack government support. Most funding comes from international donors, said Ana Cruz. Shelters have produced social media info graphics to publicize their in-kind donation needs, including disinfectant, face masks and other supplies. During the crisis, shelter staff are working long shifts of 15 days a month.

In Nigeria, shelters are also struggling to stay open. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi reported that NGOs are struggling to persuade the government to give coronavirus control measures a gender perspective. Abiola has been able to raise a small amount of money (US$3,000) but most help is coming from local communities, with households opening their homes to survivors of violence when shelters cannot cope with the demand.

Meanwhile, as lockdown measures are being relaxed in the Netherlands and New Zealand, shelters are preparing for a new phase in the crisis, and a possible surge in demand as women who were unable to report domestic abuse while under lockdown can now leave their homes to seek help.

Reference materials

Evaluation

This brief 2-3 minute survey will help GNWS develop future webinars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We appreciate your feedback.

Register for upcoming webinars

Webinars will now occur on a bi-weekly basis. The next is scheduled for 20 May 2020. Register at the links below.

 

Webinar #5 on serving survivors with COVID-19

Webinar #5 on serving survivors with COVID-19

The fifth webinar in GNWS’s weekly series on “Serving survivors with COVID-19 – sharing success stories and challenges from around the world” took place yesterday, April 22 at 11:00pm Taiwan time.

Speakers:

  • Pat Vargas (Canada)
  • Margarita Guille and Monica Jasis (Mexico)
  • Famitam Outaleb (Morocco)
  • Lisbeth Jessen and Mette Mrarie Yde Poulson (Denmark)
  • Cindy Southworth (USA)
  • Ruth Ozery (Israel)
  • Adine Samadi (Sweden)
  • Joy Lange (South Africa)

Pat introduced the two kinds of shelters in Canada, crisis shelters which are communal living homes with shared facilities, and transitional housing, which are independent units. The shelter network was able to get funding from the government to help equip shelters with wifi, get computers for children so they could do their homework, and other supplies and resources to ensure the shelters stay open. Pat added that Canada’s shelters have adopted COVID-19 prevention practices from Taiwan.

Margarita reported that the consequences of special measures introduced by some Latin American countries are placing restrictions on shelter staff getting to work, limiting access to food, and increasing risks and stress for shelter staff. The Latin American shelter network RiRE has seen a drop in helpline calls in lockdown situations because it is difficult for women to reach out when they are being monitored by their abuser at home.

Monica gave some recommendation to deal with anxiety issues during the COVID-19 crisis, such as designating one provider per case, initiating counseling services first while explaining the new limitations on social distance, and then implementing COVID-19 prevention protocols.

Speaking from the MENA region, Fatima said the ABAAD Helpline has launched a #LockdownNotLockup campaign with banners held from balconies and messages of solidarity for victims, to raise attention about the increase in domestic violence, and ask the government to take action.

In Jordan, the #WeAreOneAtHomeAndOutside campaign has highlighted the role family members can play to change violent behaviors and stereotypical gender roles within the home. Jordan has kept their shelters open, but the residents must go through a government health check to enter the shelter.

In Denmark, Lisbeth and Mette reported that shelters also have a screening protocol, but have prepared additional space to house COVID-19 cases to keep them separate from other survivors.

Q&A

  1. Our concern is how the lockdown is inhibiting the ability of women to call for help. How do women reach out for help in Canada and have any additional contact channels been opened?
  • Most of our crisis line are reporting lower numbers of call. However, in some areas, as soon as they increased the time of isolation, there was a rise in numbers.  Google reported a 70% increase on searches about domestic violence.  Some shelters are using texting to reach out. This is the question of the day!  How do we reach those women in isolation? How can we safety plan?  Perhaps we can start putting info on our websites. Some organizations are getting together to strategize on how to reach women… we just need to be careful not to put the woman in more danger.
  • Yes, I think it is a good idea to post information to websites. We are also creating digital communities for women where they have other kind of topics among them DV.
  1. How are people promoting safety when shelters and/or hotel vouchers are not available and technology is limited?
  • Some organizations have strategized around access to food through food banks—this may allow an advocate to connect with the woman and briefly safety plan. Advocates can also train food pantry workers in identifying signs of domestic violence and offering information. Puerto Rico recently launched a campaign addressing neighbors—where they should actively be promoting the safety of women and children and contacting police when they see or hear something.
  • In Minnesota, USA, the state domestic violence coalition, Violence Free Minnesota, developed materials to distribute to retailers deemed essential (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) that inform workers on domestic violence and supporting potential victims. Many organizations have also had information posted in bathrooms at these essential services. In Italy, they developed a new campaign to let people know DV shelters were still open. Campaigns could also be done in partnership with television and radio stations.
  • Prior to government issued lockdowns and as some places re-open, organizations have used this as an opportunity to reconnect with the education system (teachers, principals, etc.), providing them information on domestic and sexual violence services and the helpline number.
  1. Are there any Standards Operating Procedures, guidelines, or lessons learned on the management of shelters for survivors of GBV that people can share?
  • One is being developed for the Latin American region. A few organizations/countries have developed some, one is the Red Nacional de Albergues de Violencia Doméstica in Puerto Rico.
  • As information becomes available and best practices are recognized, we will share this information via the webinar series.

Register for upcoming webinars here:

Is it safe for shelters to use Zoom?

Is it safe for shelters to use Zoom?

With people locked-down at home while COVID-19 rages around the world, the online meeting and webinar platform Zoom has become incredibly popular. At the same time, concerns over the application’s security issues have also hit the headlines.

Speaking at today’s GNWS Webinar on using technology (which was also held on Zoom), Erica Olsen from the US National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) said she frequently uses Zoom for internal work conversations and connecting with family and friends.

However, NNEDV does not recommend using Zoom for confidential conversations with clients, because (like many other applications) Zoom requires a download to your mobile device, which leaves a footprint that an abusive partner could find.

Although in theory it is possible to join meetings without downloading Zoom, it can be a very complex process. If an application has to be downloaded, it leaves a trace on your phone or device, so if the device is monitored by the abusive partner it will be visible.

The other problem is Zoom collects information about users, especially on its free service. There have been allegations of conversations being recorded and kept. So users need to be aware that Zoom is a third party company, over which you have no control.

On the plus side, because of the storm of negative media coverage over the past few weeks, Zoom has worked to make some of these concerns less problematic.

In terms of data that Zoom collects, including IP addresses, Zoom has a more secure option, but you have to sign into its business associate agreement to enjoy these. If you don’t have a corporate account, it may cost you quite a lot more.

NNEDV and other civil rights organizations are pushing for Zoom not to charge extra for privacy.

Zoom-bombing is also a concern. This is when someone takes over the screen of a group conversation with inappropriate content, or shouts inappropriate things in an open meeting. This can be avoided by changing the privacy settings. See NNEDV’s guidelines for preventing Zoom-bombing for details.

It is important to note that NO product is without risk, which is one of the reasons that NNEDV does not endorse products. Products are also constantly being upgraded, so their privacy, access, and security features will not be the same from week to week.

Depending on the survivors needs, the platform that will cause the least harm may be not be easily identified right away. It is important that with whatever product we use, we give survivors all of the information they need up front to make an informed decision.

Sometimes the low-tech solution is the best. If a phone call or a text message does the job, there is no need to go for the latest video conference application.

Being able to make an informed decision, means that survivors know the pros and cons of using the product in light of their situation. They need to understand the risks, and be given all of the information about how a platform may collect or share information.

 

Report on Webinar #4 “Using Technology to Support Victims during a Public Health Crisis”

Report on Webinar #4 “Using Technology to Support Victims during a Public Health Crisis”

Webinar 4 in the series of weekly online meetings organized by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) took place on Wednesday, April 15 at 6pm ET Washington DC. The topic was “Using Technology to Support Victims during a Public Health Crisis”. A total of 199 people from 40 countries joined the webinar.

Speakers:

  • Cindy Southworth, National Network to End Domestic Violence (USA)
  • Erica Olsen, National Network to End Domestic Violence (USA)
  • Karen Bentley, WESNET (Australia)
  • Malathi Das, SCWO, Singapore
  • Anthony Carlisle, Garden of Hope, Taiwan
  • Maria Munir, National Shelter Network, Ethiopia
  • Lise Martin, National Shelter Network, Canada

Repeating last week’s topic for a different time zone, the webinar addressed the question of how to use technology to help victims of gender-based violence within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers discussed good practices for online counseling, using technology safely, and protecting victims who are confined to their homes.

Karen talked about the need to ensure survivors were not leaving footprints on their mobile devices for abusers to follow. Shelter workers should check their clients are following safety protocols and regularly remind them to be vigilant. You should not assume that if sending text messages was safe last week it will be okay this week.

Reporting from Canada, Lise said the government has pledged C$50m to protection of survivors of domestic violence, including C$26m for 575 shelters. Most of the funding is flexible, and is being used by shelters for staff expenses, emergency relief for survivors and other expenses.

In Canada, shelters are using hotels with a member of staff being onsite 24/7 for support. In Quebec, for mothers in shelters, visitation rights for the abusive parent have been suspended. The shelter network has launched a poster campaign in pharmacies and supermarkets to reach survivors trapped at home.

Malathi updated the webinar on the situation in Singapore, which has seen a 33% increase in calls to the domestic violence hotline compared to the same period last year. Caused by factors related to the COVID-19 crisis, loss of income, and the partial lockdown, the increase in demand for help is putting a strain on social services.

In Taiwan, Anthony said the collapse of service industry was affecting women in particular. At the Garden of Hope, some 40 clients are on “unpaid leave”. Social workers have stopped all face-to-face meetings, which puts clients who are vulnerable to abuse at home in greater danger.

Anthony said that the government is concentrating on controlling the outbreak, which has been very successful so far. Unfortunately prevention of domestic violence is currently not a priority.

Erica addressed concerns about the safety of Zoom. Although NNEDV regularly uses Zoom (including this webinar) Erika said she would not recommend it for confidential conversations with clients because like many other video conferencing applications, it is difficult to use without downloading, and thus leaving a footprint on a mobile device.

Speakers also addressed the issue of using of code words (like “mask 19” in France) to alert pharmacists when making a call within earshot of an abuser. Unfortunately these code words also become widely known to perpetrators, so as a result some survivors are now unable to call their pharmacy for essential medication.

Q&A

Below are the questions asked in the Q&A box during the webinar with answers provided by the speakers.

  1. How secure (if at all) is using any type of video, chat, or text line for private client advocacy or therapy sessions given the recent concerns with security breaches and hacking. Is there a product you all endorse?No product is without risk and for this and many reasons, NNEDV does not endorse products. Products are continuously changing and we cannot verify if their privacy, access, and security features will be the same.

    Depending on the survivors needs, the platform that will cause the least harm may be not be easily identified right away. It is important that with whatever product we use, we give survivors all of the information they need up front to make an informed decision. Being able to make an informed decision, means that survivors know the pros and cons as it relates to their situation in utilizing the product. They will also understand the risks, and also be given all of the information about how a platform may collect or share information.

    It also means that you all need to consider your confidentiality obligations. For organizations in the USA: many products promote that they are HIPAA compliant, but that compliance isn’t the end all be all for programs governed under VAWA/FVPSA/VOCA. While again we cannot say if something is compliant or not, you can analyze if the features of any product has the abilities to meet your confidentiality needs. We have a Comparison Chart where we list products programs can assess if it would be a good tool for them.

  2. Hi, are there any specific videocall services that are recommended as considered safer to use with clients? What are your thoughts about using Skype and Facetime?If a survivor reaches out to you via these platforms then it is okay to engage, but it is important to let them know the risks and issues with doing so in that way. If you all are wanting to reach out to survivors then you are obligated by law to do this a thoughtful and to do this as safe as possible for survivors. It is important to use tools that have privacy, accessibility, and security in mind. We have a Choosing a Vendor Checklist that you can use to help you think about the features that Skype and Facetime have and use it to guide you in deciding if those tools will work for you. We have not had the capacity to do a deep dive into either one of those tools, but the vendor checklist will get you started.
  3. Are there legal ramifications to having conversations in less private ways, like over text or video conference?  Is this a form of waiving privilege?  I wonder if it opens the conversations up to easier subpoenas.It’ll be important to look at your privilege statute to see how and when privilege can be waived. Unless there is a conversation about specific legal information (a conversation that should remain between the professional and the survivor) in front of other people (say a group call, for example), it’s likely that the privilege will still stand. Regarding subpoenas, if you are a program that is funded by VAWA, FVPSA, or VOCA – a subpoena is not an exception to your confidentiality obligations. Anyone can send in a subpoena, but you still cannot share identifying or individual info about a survivor without a valid court order (signed by a judge) or when mandated due to a state statute. We do always want to make sure that we’re not using a third-party platform that has access to and retains the content of conversations, such as online chats. If they retained the information, a subpoena could be sent directly to them.

Next week

The next webinar in this series will be on “Serving women with COVID-19: What are the lived experience around the world?” to be held on April 22 at 11:00AM EST. Please register here.

Resources:

Webinar#4: Using Technology to Support Victims

Webinar#4: Using Technology to Support Victims

Webinar 4 in the series of weekly online meetings organized by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters will take place on Wednesday, April 15 at 6pm ET Washington DC (Thursday April 16 at 6am Taiwan, 8am Australia, etc.). The topic will again be “Using Technology to Support Victims during a Public Health Crisis”.

Register Here

Repeating last week’s topic for a different time zone, the webinar will address the question of how to use technology to help victims of gender-based violence within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers will discuss good practices for online counseling, using technology safely, and protecting victims who are confined to their homes.

 

Webinar #3: Using Technology to Support Victims

Webinar #3: Using Technology to Support Victims

The third in the series of weekly webinars hosted by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) took place on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 9:00 AM Washington, DC, USA time. This time the topic was “Using Technology to Support Victims During a Public Health Crisis”.

The webinar addressed the question of how to use technology to help victims of gender-based violence within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presenters

  • Cindy Southworth, National Network to End Domestic Violence (USA)
  • Erica Olsen, National Network to End Domestic Violence (USA)
  • Karen Bentley, WESNET (Australia)
  • Paula van den Boom, SafetyNed (Netherlands)
  • Pille Tsopp-Pagan, Women’s Support and Information Center (Estonia)
  • Uma Shah, Saathi (Nepal)

Regional Updates

  • Joy Lange, St. Anne’s Home (South Africa)
  • Alicja Switon, Women Against Violence Europe

NNEDV presented their well-established tech accessibility program, which was ready to go when the coronavirus crisis hit. Erica said survivors should be offered multiple options, including text, chat, phone, and e-mail.

Karen shared good practices for online counseling, such as stabilizing the camera, using hand movements, dressing in the same way you would when visiting clients, and paying attention to the background. Helping clients understand that the session is over is also important, so as not to leave clients hanging.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia, there has been a huge increase in demand for the free smartphones WESNET offers survivors of violence, Karen said, adding that there is currently a market shortage of cheap smartphones.

Paula reported a 20-50% increase in domestic violence in locked-down European countries. We will only know full extent of the crisis after lockdowns are lifted, and women who were not able to make reports can get out of their homes. WAVE is currently conducting a survey into the situation.

In the Netherlands “intelligent isolation” is being promoted, which means teachers and social workers actively check on vulnerable children and women.

Pille noted that in Europe at the start of the pandemic helpline calls dropped, but later increased dramatically. This is a trend that has been noted in other disaster situations.

Resources from the Webinars

Q&A

What are the best programs for distance counseling with clients?
What’s going to work best for your program and the survivors you work with may be different than what works for someone else. What is available also changes by country. I’m not sure where you are located, but you can find some information and choosing and implementing digital services at the following links.

Do you have any recommendations for text lines our service can use? We are also getting less calls but have had a dramatic increase in violence in our community.
One option that many programs are looking into is ResourceConnect. They have a secure chat option as well as a text option built from a privacy by design framework so the company does not have any access to information or content shared.

We want to make sure facilitation with survivors is engaging, easily understood, and effective. What are some recommended tools or strategies to think through when deciding on platforms or applications to engage with survivors?
Here are some links from TechSafety.org on mobile advocacy using mobile phones and other mobile devices.

Previous Recordings

Below are the links to register for the upcoming weekly webinars with the Global Network of Women’s Shelters:

Registrants of the three webinars already held will receive an invite to join the GNWS announcement list if they are not already subscribed. This list is used to share information on upcoming webinars and other information.

Webinar 3: Using Technology to Support Victims During a Public Health Crisis on April 8

Webinar 3: Using Technology to Support Victims During a Public Health Crisis on April 8

The third webinar in our series of weekly events during the coronavirus outbreak will be on Wednesday, April 8 at 9am ET Washington, DC (9pm in Taiwan) on the topic of “Using Technology to Support Victims During a Public Health Crisis”

Register Here

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) will be hosting weekly webinars to share lessons learned and best practices from around the globe. Weekly webinars will be scheduled at different times to accommodate different time zones.

The COVID-19 outbreak has presented multiple challenges for organizations working with victims of gender-based violence, including ensuring the safety of staff and victims, supporting victims using digital services, helping staff work remotely, and providing adequate resources in shelter.

In addition, as families are being told to stay at home, women and children who are vulnerable to domestic abuse will be at greater risk. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence need support, even while many communities are using physical distancing to reduce the spread of the virus.

In this webinar, the US The National Network to End Domestic Violence, Women’s Services Network – WESNET Australia, and safetyNed from the Netherlands will share strategies for using technology to support victims during a public health crisis. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Digital platforms to continue providing services,
  • Translating advocacy skills into digital services,
  • Protecting victim confidentiality, and
  • Security for digital services.

We will also leave time for updates from shelter organizations & SV NGOs around the world and questions from the webinar participants.

THIS WEBINAR WILL BE RECORDED AND SHARED AFTERWARD

Report on Coronavirus Webinar 2: Policy perspectives on protection of victims of domestic violence

The second webinar in series of weekly events organized by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters took place today. Speakers covered issues of prevention measures and government policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speakers

Dr. Twu Shiing-jer was Minister for Health and Welfare in Taiwan during the SARS crisis. The lessons learned from the outbreak in 2003 have been credited for helping Taiwan keep COVID-19 under control. Dr. Twu has also served as a legislator and the mayor of Chiayi City.

Chen I-ju is a Section Chief in the Department of Protective Services under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Ms. Chen’s department handles domestic violence prevention services, the national domestic abuse hotline, and other programs including women’s shelters.

Shelter representatives:

  • Chisato Kitanaka, Japan, Asia Network of Women’s Shelters
  • Diana Vàzquez, Ecuador, Interamerican Network of shelters (RiRE)
  • Van Anh Nguyen, Vietnam
  • Maria Munir, Ethiopia
  • Pille Tsopp-Pagan,  Estonia/WAVE
  • Cindy Southworth, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), USA
  • Chi Hui-Jung, Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS)

The webinar addressed the following questions:

  1. In lockdown situations, how can shelters and domestic violence prevention organizations respond?
  2. What should governments do to address the needs of survivors of violence?
  3. What procedures should shelters follow to treat residents who show symptoms of COVID-19?
  4. What policies should governments implement to help shelters respond to coronavirus?
  5. How can shelters protect the confidentiality of survivors and avoid screening that denies access to services, while at the same time also protect the health of other residents and staff from COVID-19?
  6. What lessons did Taiwan learn from SARS that helped prepare for coronavirus?

Presentation Materials

  • Presentation on COVID-19 by former Taiwanese Health Minister Dr. Twu Shiing-jer
  • Remarks by Chen I-ju, Protective Services Department, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan
    • What are the government’s policies regarding COVID-19 response measures to be taken by shelters?
      Regarding measures taken at women’s shelters, we follow the Guidelines for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (COVID-19) Infection Control at Long-term Care Facilities adopted by the Taiwanese government (outlined in last week’s webinar). The measures include infection prevention education and training, advocating proper hygiene, health management of employees and shelter residents, management of visitors, reporting and management of infected persons, a list of precautions for those at risk of infection, and standardized protection measures.The safety of those conducting at-home quarantine and isolation must be evaluated. If an individual is found to be in need of shelter services, we will provide the individual with an isolated room for one based on the Guidelines for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (COVID-19) Infection Control at Accommodation-type Long-term Care Facilities, thus ensuring both safety and infection control.
    • If a lockdown takes place, how can domestic violence be prevented? What measures will the government take?
      To prevent domestic violence from increasing in frequency or severity during at-home isolation or quarantine, the following measures have been adopted:We will continually monitor the number of reports of domestic violence throughout Taiwan, especially in regions with greater numbers of people in at-home isolation or quarantine, and compare these numbers to those of years past to see whether the number of reports is abnormally increasing or decreasing. If there is an abnormal change, we will respond as quickly as possible while continuing to supervise the related visits and investigations conducted by local government agencies in the handling of such cases to ensure established procedure is being followed and to provide protection services when needed.During the outbreak, 24 hours a day, those in need may obtain aid by calling the Protection Hotline at 113 or the police at 110, or they may make reports on the online platform ecare.mohw.gov.tw. The 113 Protection Hotline provides not only phone consultation but also online and messaging consultation. This means that there are other options when an individual who is in at-home isolation or quarantine suffers from domestic violence but is unable to call 113 or 110.

      We will continue to promote the Zero Tolerance for Violence Community Plan to enhance people’s consciousness of domestic violence in their communities and encourage them to take the initiative in providing assistance or reporting incidents. We are also encouraging cooperation between local governments, organizations, neighborhood/borough heads, and borough administrative staff, especially regarding those in at-home isolation or quarantine, to be acutely aware of what is happening. In accordance with the law, they are to report any suspicion of domestic violence that may be aroused while they are providing services to families.

Other resources

Be sure to join next week’s webinar on Using Technology to Support Victims During the Coronavirus Crisis.

GNWS Webinar #2 – Coronavirus and Women’s Shelters: Policy perspectives on protection of victims of domestic violence during the outbreak

GNWS Webinar #2 – Coronavirus and Women’s Shelters: Policy perspectives on protection of victims of domestic violence during the outbreak

On Wednesday, April 1 at 6AM EST (6PM Taiwan time), the Garden of Hope Foundation, the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters (ANWS) and the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) will hold their second webinar on the topic of “Coronavirus and Women’s Shelters: Policy perspectives on protection of victims of domestic violence during the outbreak”.

We are fortunate to have secured two highly experienced officials from the Taiwanese government, who have kindly agreed to take time out of their busy schedules to give presentations and answer questions.

Dr. Twu Shiing-jer was Minister for Health and Welfare in Taiwan during the SARS crisis. The lessons learned from the outbreak in 2003 have been credited for helping Taiwan keep COVID-19 under control. Dr. Twu has also served as a legislator and the mayor of Chiayi City.

Chen I-ju is a Section Chief in the Department of Protective Services under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Ms. Chen’s department handles domestic violence prevention services, the national domestic abuse hotline, and other programs including women’s shelters.

We will also leave plenty of time for updates from shelter organizations around the world and questions from the webinar participants.

The webinar will address the following questions:

  1. In lockdown situations, how can shelters and domestic violence prevention organizations respond? What should governments do to address the needs of survivors of violence?
  2. What procedures should shelters follow to treat residents who show symptoms of COVID-19?
  3. What policies should governments implement to help shelters respond to coronavirus?
  4. How can shelters protect the confidentiality of survivors and avoid screening that denies access to services, while at the same time also protect the health of other residents and staff from COVID-19?
  5. What lessons did Taiwan learn from SARS that helped prepare for coronavirus?

Register here.

 

Video and Q&A from the “Coronavirus and women’s shelters: Planning, preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic” webinar

The Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) and Asian Network of Women’s Shelters jointly organized a webinar on “Coronavirus and women’s shelters: Planning, preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic” on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 8-9:30PM Taiwan time. 

Seven hundred people from all over the world registered for the webinar. The following is the video of the event and answers to some of the questions posted online by participants. We are planning to hold another webinar at 6PM Taiwan time on Wednesday April 1.

Q&A

  • What happened to the financial resources of the shelters? Did they completely stopped or the government took part?
    In Taiwan the government has continued to support shelters as normal, and helped supply them with free thermometers, masks and alcohol sanitizer. Other equipment such as gloves, protective clothing, visors etc must be purchased by the shelters.
  • Does the shelters with their own resources took care of the costs of caring for those who are infected?
    Officially the government should do that, but in practice there are some gaps in what they give.
  • How did you manage the behaviour challenges, anxiety, acting out?
    GOH has counselors and spiritual counselors who visit the shelters to provide support and prayer for the residents.
  • What kind of support/collaboration did you need from your government?
    The government needs to help prepare quarantine facilities for confirmed cases, and alternative accommodation if the shelter has to be evacuated.
  • Are you reusing masks? Or did everyone get fresh masks daily?
    In the shelters the government provides free masks. For the public, the government is rationing masks, everyone can buy 3 a week. Most people are reusing masks for 2-3 days before disposing them.
  • What type of masks are provided and what training?
    Medical masks, not N95 respirators, but good enough for general use. Training is the same as WHO recommendations – use with good hand hygiene, don’t touch the front of the mask, etc.
  • In Alberta we are being told to only use masks on those who are infected or suspected of infection.
    Taiwan is producing 13 million masks a day, but even then the government is still rationing them to the public. In countries where there is a shortage of masks, we can understand why the authorities are channeling them to health workers and suspected cases only.
  • How many times per day do you apply sanitation measures?
    It is done in the morning, lunchtime, and afternoon/evening. Surfaces that everyone touches, including handles, switches, tables, computer keyboards, etc are sterilized with alcohol spray. Floors in the clients’ rooms are done with bleach in the morning and evening.
  • Was this structure for response already in place before?
    Yes, since the SARS crisis these protocols have been ready. Every winter the government also provides free influenza vaccines to shelters, and N95 masks for children who develop a fever.
  • Are there any contingency plans if you end up with a lot of survivors? The distancing may be difficult if the shelters are at full capacity or even more.
    We are making plans for two possible scenarios – either move everyone to a separate care center for quarantine, or if there is enough space keep everyone in the shelter in separate spaces.
  • What are the testing policies in place. Universal testing, weekly testing, testing after symptoms, testing only of those in vulnerable populations?
    In Taiwan there is testing for (1) suspected cases, (2) people who have been in contact with confirmed cases, (3) anyone coming in from overseas.
  • Is food served with disposable utensils?
    Some shelters are using disposable plates etc, others give residents their own utensils which they wash themselves.
  • What can we do if we are receiving push back from funders on protocol? For example, we are being told that we are violating residents’ rights by taking clients temperatures and that if we quarantine clients on one certain level of the shelter this could be discrimination that is an issue we are facing. Please send us the info and we can help raise awareness on our social media sites and other networks.
  • In USA we are not allowed to ask clients these questions because of VAWA rules. So how do we really stay safe?
    So far this hasn’t been an issue in Taiwan. We would need to defer to our colleagues in North America for advice on client confidentiality regulations.
  • Hello from Ontario, Canada. We are not on official lockdown yet. Most people are practicing self-quarantine. Because we are not on lockdown, we are reluctant to enforce that women stay in shelter. How would you recommend we move forward? Is it ethical to enforce self-quarantine on women in shelter for the safety of all there?
    See above.
  • Hello from Slovakia, I have a question about child custody and visitation rights: if and how do your governments or courts deal with the question of visitation rights of abusive men who have court decisions defining their visitation rights and insist on seeing their children and/or taking them to their households for the weekend or longer period of time in case of joint custody? Are there any regulations on that in any of the participating countries?
    There isn’t a lockdown in Taiwan at the moment so we haven’t had to face issues of rights and ethics yet.
  • In Mongolia we have very few cases and no community transmission yet, so now is truly the time for preparation. What are some things you wish you did before outbreaks? Hopefully, we can learn from your experience and prepare well. Thanks.
    Prepare supplies and resources, including food, train your staff, residents and children, teach and practice social distancing. The most important thing is sanitizer hand wash and masks.
  • What’s the possibility of having more domestic violence and how to handle it?
    This is a real possibility. Employers need to check up on staff working at home to make sure they are safe. The social welfare system also needs to deliver heightened protection services.
    Comment from a participant: In Lazio and Campania we are experiencing a dramatic decrease in phone calls and access of women subjected to SGBV, 80% less than usual. We activated all possible alternatives to phone calls, and promoted them online, to allow women to contact us through emails, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger and even social media as Telegram and Tictoc. As for migrant women, survivors of SGBV, including human trafficking, we are sending messages and videos in different languages to provide information on the lockdown measures and the possibility to ask for help. We agree that this is the moment to push for authorities to apply the laws on protection measures for women, believing survivors and forcing men to leave houses.
  • I have a question about local communities with high underserved populations, e.g., rural, indigenous. Have your shelters accepted new clients and if so, how can underserved communities access the shelter, e.g., transportation to shelter, acute trauma medical needs, separation from abuser if necessary, etc., when under a government-ordered lockdown?
    So far thankfully we haven’t faced this situation in Taiwan yet.
    Comment from participant: In the midst of the crisis, people with oriental features belonging to north east part of India are forced to flee and look for alternate shelters. They are suspected to be carriers of the virus and hence asked to vacate rented places. Housing / rights to reside are being violated. Government, police are being strict with such perpetrators of such abuse. Racism, discrimination and abuse are off shoots of the pandemic which will require long term support.
  • Do you recommend moving to a model where essential staff live in shelter?
    No. We wouldn’t recommend that unless the staff were quarantined with the residents.
  • Have domestic violence shelters made any changes in their policies with rape crisis centers?
    So far no.
  • Are you providing food for the women who are being housed outside of the shelter?
    Not at the moment, no.
  • Would he be possible to email a script of this after?
    Yes, we will send out an email with the recording and transcript
  • How do counsellors reach out with psycho social care to women in distress?
    Social workers and counselors have cut down or stopped home visits and transferred to using video conferencing or telephone calls.
  • What are you doing to prevent the crisis and spread and to support clients with programming in the shelter?
    At the moment, education, hygiene, distancing, health checks, communicating online etc.
  • Is it better to medically examine women survivors of violence before we can provide shelter services for them, or is it better to ask that they have an isolated rooms until the health is confirmed?
    In Taiwan we are following the protocol of temperature check and TOCC questions before entering the shelter, then get a test if they are suspected, and either send them for medical treatment or isolate in the shelter. Please see the presentation slides for details.
  • Some children from children shelters went home only the orphans are left with us. So what measures could be taken when they come back?
    In Taiwan shelters would follow the same protocol as above.
  • We only have one medium/long term shelter in Solomon Islands. If there is a confirmed case in shelter, does the entire shelter need to close while everyone is quarantined for 14 days? And how then would we ensure service continuity?
    If the shelter has the space to allow residents and staff to stay safely apart then it can become a quarantine center, if not, then we suggest contingency plans for alternative accommodation such as a hotel.

Presentation slides and other documents:

Other resources

Speakers:

  • Ni Hsin, Mustard Seed Mission (MSM), Taiwan
  • Anthony Carlisle, The Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH), Taiwan
  • Chi Hui-Jung, Global Network of Women’s Shelters
  • Cindy Southworth & Erica Olsen, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), USA
  • Marcella Pirrone, D.i.Re, Italy
  • Margaret Augerinos, Center for Non-Violence, Australia
  • Fatima Outaleb, UAF Shelter, Morocco
  • Margarita Guille, Red Interamericana de Refugios, Mexico
  • Maria Munir, AWSAD, Ethiopia

Many thanks to NNEDV for hosting this event.