A women’s shelter is a specialised service for women, providing safe accommodation and support for women who are victims of violence, and for their children. Women’s shelters or refuges are, along with national women’s helplines, some of the most vital specialised support services for women victims of violence and for their children. They not only provide safe and emergency accommodation where women and their children can seek refuge from violence, but also long-term support to enable victims to rebuild violence-free and empowered lives.
The number of shelter places in women’s shelters is mostly defined as the number of shelter beds, although in some countries, where shelter spaces include a specific number or percentage of beds for women and children, only the beds allocated to women are counted.
The Explanatory Report of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) contains recommendations that states should provide a minimum of one woman’s shelter space per every 10 000 inhabitants (for the accommodation of a woman and her children).
See also: victim; survivor
WAVE/Austrian Women’s Shelter Network (2014). The WAVE Report 2014: Specialized Women’s Support Services and New Tools for Combating Gender-based Violence in Europe. Available at: http://www.wave-network.org/content/wave-report-2014