Disabled women have a higher probability of being victims of violence. On the other hand, the disability may itself be the result of an attack. It is, therefore, a complex issue with sexual discrimination, violence and disability being deeply linked. This phenomenon often develops, and physical, psychological, sexual or economic abuse suffered can lead to death. The Hanover branch of the Lions Club Hermes has decided to specifically come in aid of these disabled women that have been victims of abuse.
The Lions Club Hanover Hermes: committed to helping women
Created in 2003, The Lions Club Hanover Hermes is a member of the Lions Clubs, an international philanthropic network. Each chapter can choose to take part in local, national, or international initiatives. The Hanover Lions Club Hermes, which is located in the north of Germany, specializes in providing support to children and women in two temporary refuges. The aim is to put a roof over the head of women suffering from abuse, as well as helping them regain self-confidence.
A building specially designed for disabled women
The city of Hanover has several centers intended for women who are victims of abuse. « It is difficult to establish the figures with certainty, but we estimate that there are several hundred women in this city that need this type of center » says Ralf Graute, a member of the Lions Club Hanover Hermes who is responsible for the project. However, none of the existing centers are suited to disabled people. « Caring for disabled women implies having buildings on one level, or that they are fitted with lifts and specific equipment, making them more expensive than standard centers, » Graute explains. Yet these women are those most in need of a refuge. To cope with this increasing demand, in 2014, one of the two 36-bed refuges – the Frauenhaus Hanover – decided to increase its capacity by creating a new building that is suitable for disabled users. The support of the Air Liquide Foundation enabled the association to buy medical beds for disabled women now staying in this refuge.
Vital accommodation to allow women to bounce back
Ralf Graute, who was behind this partnership, insists on the need to develop more centers like this: « I visited the site with the Air Liquide employee who sponsored the program, to show him the reality of the refuge. The majority of the cases involve domestic violence. The women find refuge there for a few weeks or months, often with their children, while they make decisions about their futures. Most are then re-housed by social services or fly on their own wings. One young man who was taken in as a child with his mother told us that the refuge had been his last chance of a normal life. He now runs his own business. »