Cablegate: Estonia: Dcm Visits Women's and Children's


DE RUEHTL #0427 3510609
R 160609Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: On December 10, DCM visited the Women's
Shelter of Tartu and the Tartu Child Support Center to
mark International Human Rights Day and the 16 Days of
Activism against Gender Violence. DCM toured both
facilities and met staff, psychologists and social
workers for discussions on domestic abuse in Estonia,
awareness raising and victim services. DCM also
identified areas for future cooperation between the
Embassy and these centers. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Domestic violence is a problem in Estonia,
although the level of violence is in line with the EU
average. According to domestic NGOs, one in four women
in Estonia has suffered physical, emotional, or sexual
domestic violence. The Women's Center of Tartu, which
began operating in 2002, was the first battered women's
shelter to open in Estonia. The founders of the shelter
took action after observing the volume of calls to an
Estonian crisis hotline from battered women seeking
shelter. During its six years of operation, the shelter
has provided services to more than 620 women. Of this
number, approximately 40 percent have stayed in the
shelter while the rest have utilized legal and counseling
out-patient services. The shelter staff indicated that
the majority of women they have offered services to are
ethnic Estonian. Given the social and cultural divide
between Estonians and Russian speakers, one staff member
hypothesized that it is possible that Russian women do
not think Estonians want to help them.

3. (U) In addition to providing services to battered
women, the shelter staff also liaises with educators,
medical and judicial professionals and law enforcement
agencies to raise awareness and sensitivity to the issue
of domestic violence. According to the center staff,
cooperation with the City of Tartu and various other
agencies has improved over the course of the last six
years, as have attitudes towards domestic violence within
the law enforcement community. The staff credits these
changes in attitudes to an increased awareness resulting
from their training and public outreach campaigns. DCM
discussed with the staff ways in which they could extend
their reach even further into the community by utilizing
resources like public transportation for advertising.

4. (U) Shelter staff shared with DCM the funding
obstacles the shelter faces. While the shelter itself is
sustained by revenue generated from gambling taxes and
assistance from the local municipality, the Tartu
domestic violence hotline and other training initiatives
are understaffed and underfunded. Shelter staff also
noted the lack of a formal domestic violence training
module for police and rescue staff as a critical shortage
complicating their efforts. DCM offered to have the
Embassy's Legal Attache look for sample domestic violence
training materials we could share with the shelter and
police contacts.

4. (U) The Tartu Child Support Center was established as
an NGO in 1995 and like the Tallinn Women's Shelter, was
the first facility of its kind in Estonia. Over the
course of the past 15 years, the Center has offered
direct assistance to more than 5200 children. DCM
discussed various projects administered by the Center
including the Big Brother, Big Sisters program, training
to help at-risk mothers and young abusers break the cycle
of child abuse, child sex tourism prevention and training
for government officials and law enforcement officers on
identification and handling of juvenile victims of abuse.

5. (U) According to the staff, a large number of the
families they work with come from the Russian-speaking
community. As such, shelter staff have targeted several
training projects in the border regions of Estonia and in
Russia proper, and have cultivated an abuse prevention
training partnership with Belarus. The shelter has also
facilitated the translation of abuse prevention materials
into both Estonian and Russian languages. DCM discussed
outreach methods such as displaying materials in airports
and boat terminals and, with respect to sex tourism,
conducting trainings with travel and tourism outlets.


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