The government plans to provide better support for victims of domestic violence by dispatching psychotherapists to shelters and women’s centers across the country from April, according to health ministry sources.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will seek appropriations in the fiscal 2002 budget to provide support at some 100 public facilities for domestic violence victims, the sources said.

A new law to combat domestic violence, which goes into force in October, will offer shelter and protect victims at women’s counseling centers — but the facilities do not have adequate counseling services.

Experts say without appropriate support, abused women are at risk of suffering a loss of appetite, motivation or even of committing suicide.

Murders and injuries linked to domestic violence numbered 1,096 in 2000, about double the figure in 1999, according to the National Police Agency.

The psychotherapists will work at temporary shelters for women set up in 47 prefectures as well as 51 women’s protection facilities around the country. They are all public facilities.

Temporary shelters were originally intended for the protection and rehabilitation of women based on the Antiprostitution Law, but about 40 percent of women who used the facilities were domestic violence victims in the year to March 2000.

In addition to the public facilities, there were 37 private shelters for women in 16 prefectures as of June 2000. Efforts have been made at those facilities to help domestic violence victims overcome emotional scars via counseling and workshops.

Keiko Kondo, head of a private shelter in Sapporo, said all women who suffer life-threatening violence need support and requested that the government not only dispatch personnel, but also intensify training for counselors.

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