More than Shelter - Needs Assessment of Dar ul Amans and Shelters in Pakistan
Despite Pakistan’s strong legislative and policy framework, and many initiatives for addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the country, support for the relief, rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors remains limited. State-run shelters face multiple challenges which impact their effectiveness, accessibility and quality of services.
As a first step to enhance the capacity of state-run shelters, the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) and UN Women jointly launched a needs assessment to understand the challenges confronting shelters, their staff, and residents, and provide recommendations to address the issues.
The study was conducted with research partner Aurat Foundation during 2018-2019 and updated in 2023. It covered seven Dar-ul-Amans (DUAs) and two Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women’s Crisis Centres (SBBWCC) in all four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory. The needs assessment employed robust qualitative and quantitative data collection methods to gather data from primary and secondary sources including government representatives, shelter staff, service providers, civil society organizations and residents themselves.
The study revealed that state-run shelters are under-resourced with limited capacity to respond to the varied needs of the survivors. Important services such as legal aid, counselling, and vocational or literacy training are often missing or inadequate. Poor infrastructure, insufficient equipment and supplies, and prison like atmosphere and protocols plague most shelters. There were also some good practices that can be scaled up or replicated. The findings from the study aim to guide planning and development of interventions, bridging existing gaps in service and strengthening the capacity of state-run shelters.