Center for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence Inaugurated
The U.S. Government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), and together with representatives from the Judicial and Executive Branches of the Salvadoran government, as well as non-profit organizations, inaugurated the second Integrated Victims’ Assistance Unit for Victims of Domestic, Sexual Violence, and Child Abuse today in Ciudad Delgado, San Salvador.
Located within the Ciudad Delgado Justice Center, the unit represents the first effort in Central America to coordinate the work of diverse institutions in order to provide adequate assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Said effort forms part of the initiatives that USAID has been implementing since 2009 through its Improving the Justice System in El Salvador program, for which USAID has provided $10,775,000 in funding for 2008-2012.
Using an innovative model, representatives of state and non-governmental institutions provide free, integrated assistance that addresses the medical, psychological, and legal dimensions of domestic and sexual violence. USAID has provided technical assistance for institutional coordination and has also donated office equipment and medical supplies. The first unit was inaugurated in Soyapango last year; to date, USAID has invested more than $42,000 for both centers. The total investment for the life of the project will be approximately $135,000 for five different centers, which will hopefully be operating nationwide.
When a person approaches the unit, a multidisciplinary team of professionals accompanies her in her recuperation process, including court hearings, interviews, and forensic exams. A Justice of the Peace, specialized in domestic and sexual violence cases, hears the case in an expedited manner. Additionally, the unit has a playroom for children that are waiting for their parents or need play therapy to diminish the effects of violent experiences. The unit also emphasizes the active participation of the victim in her recovery through a self-help group.
“In creating these specialized services for the most vulnerable of victims, the institutions in charge of managing this project have been successful from the outset. Responding to the heart-wrenching nature of domestic and sexual violence, this model is much more than simply an assistance office. Here, we have a team of professionals who are highly dedicated to the victims,” said U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte.
The inauguration was presided over by Ambassador Aponte, together with representatives from all the institutions involved in the unit: The Magistrate of the Criminal Branch of the Supreme Court (CSJ), Rosa María Fortín; the Magistrate of the Constitutional Branch of the CSJ, Edward Sidney Blanco; the Attorney General of El Salvador, Sonia Cortez de Madriz; the Mayor of Ciudad Delgado, José Tomas Minero; the Minister of Health, María Isabel Rodríguez; the Director of the National Civilian Police, Carlos Ascencio Girón; the Acting Director of the Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development, Ada Mendez; the Director of the Solidarity Health Fund, Verónica Villalta; the Executive Director of the “La Niñez Primero” Foundation, Edgardo Antonio Flores; and the President of the Board of Directors of the Association for the Self-Determination and Development of Salvadoran Women, Mirsna Torres de Silva. These authorities also signed a memorandum of understanding that defined their roles in the implementation of the new integrated assistance model.