Since the anti-stalking law was beefed up last year, prefectural governments across the nation have been strengthening services for victims, including provisions for providing shelter and financial assistance.
The toughened law, which was amended in October 2013, not only requires police to bolster support for victims but also calls on prefectural governments to offer protection. It specifies establishing consultation offices to provide female stalking victims with professional advice and temporary shelter.
Every prefecture is required to establish at least one such center.
Yamaguchi Prefecture offers help to targeted women who need emergency shelter at night by finding and paying for hotel rooms before moving them to shelters the next morning.
“There are many women who are running a long way from their home, so we try to alleviate their burden before they are protected in a temporary shelter,” a prefectural official said.
This kind of assistance was initially offered to victims of domestic violence, and Yamaguchi expanded the support system to stalking victims in April 2013.
Financial assistance to cover accommodation expenses is also provided by Iwate, Fukushima, Mie and Shimane prefectures.
Since 2008, Osaka Prefecture has offered temporary accommodations in public housing facilities when offenders have been warned not to approach their victim or have been charged with violating the anti-stalking law. The housing, equipped with amenities such as refrigerators and washing machines, is available to victims for up to six months.
“We’ve been told that it’s very helpful in urgent cases, where victims need to move into housing quickly so the offenders don’t know where they’ve gone,” one prefectural official said.
To help stalking victims rebuild their lives in the long term, Aomori, Gunma, Niigata, Ishikawa, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures are planning to introduce a system where they would be given priority for entering public housing facilities.
In April, Tottori Prefecture began extending financial assistance to private shelters so that victims in areas far from the prefecture’s consultation center can receive support and find accommodations.
Usually, victims are introduced to private shelters after a prefecture’s consultation office decides to offer them temporary shelter. Tottori, however, has enabled private shelters to take in victims at their own discretion, without having to consult its office. If a consultation office chief acknowledges the need, financial support for up to 14 days will be provided.
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