One Stop Domestic Violence Shelters: Morocco and South Africa

Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to visit several organizations working to end domestic violence in South Africa and Morocco. In both countries, the organizations that struck me the most are those that are following a “one stop” model for the services they provide, which means that they aim to provide all the services that a woman would need to address domestic violence – at all stages of the process – under one roof. While these services varied slightly between the organizations I visited in Cape Town, South Africa and the one in Kenitra, Morocco, they shared the most basic and immediate services that a woman might need when experiencing domestic abuse: abuse documentation, legal counseling and psychological counseling.

Actvists carry a large yellow sign from Amnesty International Morocco that says "Exige Dignidad / Exigeons La Dignite / Demand Dignity"

Members of Amnesty International at a rally in Morocco. This is just one example of activism that makes connections between social issues. Learn more at http://respectmyrights.org/page/about

At the Centre Chaml, or Centre d’Accueil et d’Habilitation des Femmes, in Kenitra, Morocco, the director of the organization took the afternoon to show me around the center and let me sit in on her meetings with new clients. The building is located approximately forty minutes outside of the capital city—Rabat—and is therefore relatively accessible to a very large population of women. Unfortunately, knowledge about the center is relatively low and passed along almost exclusively through word-of-mouth. The building is a large, four-storied building that houses many services in addition to the abuse documentation, legal and psychological counseling. One section of the organization houses a literacy program where women from the community can come to learn the Arabic alphabet. Because the Moroccan dialect of Arabic is entirely verbal, learning to read and write is essentially like learning another language, since the written Modern Standard Arabic is so different from the dialect. For many women, this is an extremely arduous task; education for girls remains very low for women, especially in rural areas like those surrounding Kenitra. The center also offers many opportunities for women to create an income for themselves and their families. In Morocco, it is extremely uncommon for most women—especially those coming from rural areas—to be part of the workforce.

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