SUCCESS STORY

Timor-Leste: Supporting GBV Survivors Through COVID-19

From the numbers reported alone, the population of Timor-Leste can be said to have escaped the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst there have been 28 confirmed cases within the country, all were ‘imported’ cases and subsequently recovered while in isolation facilities. 

 

From the numbers reported alone, the population of Timor-Leste can be said to have escaped the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst there have been 28 confirmed cases within the country, all were ‘imported’ cases and subsequently recovered while in isolation facilities. 

 

While there has been no recorded community transmission of the disease, the primary impacts on the most vulnerable members of society have come from the measures taken to prevent and prepare for the pandemic. Amidst a climate of fractious politics, economic instability, and government unable to agree and approve the national budget, government spending has been significantly curtailed. Emerging data from community safe houses are showing an increase in number of displaced clients seeking support during the state of emergency. 

 

Teresa’s (name changed for anonymity) experience is sadly one shared among many Timorese women. In May, as the population of the country was under movement restrictions, she and her family, along with their children, were confined to their home. During this time, she suffered domestic violence at the hands of her husband, and sought refuge at a safehouse run by Luta Ba Futuru. She relayed her experience, told of the challenges that women–just like her–face when household decisions are made solely by men.  With multiple families sharing a small living space, and the frequency and severity of occasional domestic violence increased markedly during the period of lockdown, there is a concern that the numbers experiencing intimate partner violence is rising beyond organisational capacities of existing safe houses. 

 

The safe house which support Teresa through her recovery and reintegration, Luta ba Futuru, through collaboration with CARE International in Timor-Leste have addressed this increase in cases through several avenues. Gender based violence referral cards were provided to distribute to more communities to make aware of their services. Supplies of dignity kits were provided to support displaced clients who are seeking temporary accommodation away from home who lack basic day to day items. PPE materials were also supplied in dignity kits as well as to organization to ensure these important works can continue safely under the COVID-19 context. 

 

Luta ba Futuru is one of 8 safe houses which is receiving similar case by case support through the EU funded COVID-19 Response in Timor-Leste. This €1.2M program is being implemented through CARE International in Timor-Leste, Plan International Timor-Leste, Oxfam Timor Leste, World Vision Timor Leste, Catholic Relief Services and is covering eight out of Timor Leste’s twelve municipalities. It targets safe houses and all other key institutions providing community services during COVID-19 as well as direct support to particularly hard hit families.  

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