The Health and Welfare Ministry plans to introduce a set of measures in the next fiscal year to protect women at shelters from attempts by their husbands to take them away by force, ministry officials said Saturday.

The ministry plans to employ guards at shelters to keep watch at night, when husbands are most likely to try to force their wives to leave.

Two guards will be on duty at each of the country’s 47 women’s counseling facilities, where women can seek temporary shelter, while one guard will be at each of the 52 long-term shelters for women as well as the approximately 300 facilities that provide shelter for women and their children.

Domestic violence has been increasing in recent years and staff at women’s facilities have been calling for better protection for the women.

The ministry also plans to make it possible for women to leave one shelter for another in a different prefecture to escape their husbands.

The ministry will subsidize transport costs for women moving shelters and will set up a system to increase cooperation among the facilities.

In fiscal 1995, the number of women seeking temporary or permanent shelter stood at 4,843, but that figure rose to 6,340 in fiscal 1998.

About one-third said they were seeking shelter because of violent behavior by their husbands.

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