Women's shelters overcrowded; Dozens of domestic abuse victims sheltered in hotels

Women's shelters in the Netherlands are crowded to such an extent that women who have to flee in a hurry from their violent partner can not always count on an emergency bed. In order to still offer safe shelter to domestic abuse victims, dozens of women are accommodated in hotels every year, NOS reports based on its own research. 

Every year around 12 thousand women in the Netherlands make use of a women's shelter. These shelters provide temporary accommodation for victims of domestic violence, where they can catch their breath, decide on the next step in their lives, and look for their own home. Around 4,500 children and 200 men also make use of such shelters per year. Shelters also have emergency beds, for victims who are in acute danger and must be brought to safety immediately. But these emergency beds are not always free, NOS found after speaking to 20 women's shelters.

For that reason, 12 women were accommodated in a hotel in Vlaardingen this year. The same happened for 16 women in Utrecht, five of them with one or more children. Another women's shelter told NOS that they had to accommodate a woman in a holiday park last year, because all their emergency beds were full.

Part of the problem is that the outflow from the shelters to homes is stagnating, Marleen van Eijndhoven, chairman of the National Network for Women's Shelters, said to NOS. "Women who arrive at the emergency shelter should actually be transferred to a regular place within the women's shelter after a maximum of three days. But that is difficult, because the outflow from the regular shelter to a protected home or social rental home is stalling. This keeps the emergency beds occupied for longer than we want and we must detour to a hotel in case of acute need to bring a woman to safety."

The shelters call on Minsiter Hugo de Jonge of Public Health to intervene as quickly as possible. "The shortage of reception options leads to irresponsible safety risks. Something must now be done nationally to tackle the problem", Van Eijndoven said. According to the shelters, the Minister was informed about the shortage of space in women's shelters last year, but nothing was done about it. 

In a written response to the broadcaster, De Jonge said that he takes these signals seriously. He will therefore instruct the association of Dutch municipalities VNG and the Shelters Federation to investigate capacity problems. "This is necessary to have a current picture of where the need is greatest."