Women's shelter expands services to include mediation

Casa Raudha Women Home shelters up to 50 people. Since 2008, it has helped 860 abused women and their children.
Casa Raudha Women Home shelters up to 50 people. Since 2008, it has helped 860 abused women and their children.PHOTO: MADAM HUDA

SINGAPORE - A new parent organisation that oversees the Casa Raudha Women Home for abused wives will roll out a series of activities, including mediation, to nip domestic violence in the bud.

Professionals will help mediate between the abused wife and her husband, in the hope that the woman and her children will leave the temporary shelter and return home.

"We want to help the women rebuild their lives. Their aggressors need to be approached carefully and counselled, too," Mr Hamzah Abdul Mutalib, president of the parent organisation called Casa Raudha Ltd, or CRL, said on Friday (March 9).

The mediation move is on top of the shelter's existing in-house counselling sessions, introduced in 2008.

It is part of several fresh initiatives announced at the launch of CRL on Friday, which also marks the shelter's 10th anniversary.

President Halimah Yacob and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim were among the 550 people who attended the event.

Said President Halimah: "Any form of abuse should not be tolerated by our society. We must work together to eradicate this problem. Organisations like Casa Raudha can play their part to prevent domestic violence and assist victims."

Casa Raudha Women Home shelters up to 50 people. Since 2008, it has helped 860 abused women and their children.

"These women want assurance that when they make that drastic decision to step away from an abusive relationship, there is a place ready to accept them and their children and they do not have to sleep on the streets," said Mr Hamzah.

He also said that after 10 years, "we are ready to move on to the next level, which is prevention of domestic violence".

Hence, his organisation will hold seminars and talks for students, community groups, religious institutions and companies on this crime that often goes unreported.

"A structured plan for such outreach programmes will be unveiled at a conference in August, for all shelters under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to come together and look into unifying their practices.

Outreach activities have hitherto been done "very quietly" at community functions, like Taman Jurong's Meet-the-People Sessions.

Last year, the MSF shelters provided a temporary roof over the heads of 633 Singaporeans, down from 666 in 2016.

In 2014, a social enterprise was started by CRL to arm women at the shelter with skills, ranging from baking to making soaps. The intent is to help them start a business or make them more employable.

Mr Hamzah recounted to The Straits Times the case of a former resident at the shelter with a knack for marketing and a dream of being a housing agent.

It required her to pass the Real Estate Salesperson Examination by the Council for Estate Agencies. The cost of the examination is $246.10.

"After several meetings, we felt she was committed and sponsored her licensing exam. Now, she's a housing agent," he added.

The CRL is not alone in the fight against domestic violence.

Gender equality group Aware offers such services as a helpline and befriending support, like accompanying women to the police station, hospital and courts plus other support groups.

From March, the services are also available in all four official languages and Hindi.