Ana is 26 years old and she succeeded to escape from a marriage in which her life was in danger almost every day. “My ex-husband was telling me every day that he will kill me and bury me in the garden. I was living in permanent fear”. The man would often switch from threatening to actions and would hit her until full distress. He would become even more violent when the woman tried to call for help. “If I did not divorce, I would have been dead since long ago”.

The young woman was 22 years old when she got married to Andrei, a boy from the same locality in the Gagauzian Autonomy. They started communicating over social media, afterwards they started dating, and one year later they moved in together. They got married when Ana found out that she is pregnant. They did not afford the wedding and had no money for a party. They were living at Andrei’s parents place, and the woman was the only one to bring money home, working at a hairdressing shop. Neither the man, nor his parents had stable jobs.

Even though she had a delivery with multiple complications, Ana returned to her job in several weeks after being discharged from the hospital. “I would work the whole day long, and have no sleep during the nights, as I had to take care of the child. I was totally exhausted.” Instead of supporting the woman, her husband was behaving as if he was not married, going to bars and discos, and the parents were totally supporting him. “They would tell me that I have to take care of the child, while he is young and should enjoy life,” says the woman. The first episodes of physical violence appeared during this period. When attempting once to make her husband accountable, she found herself smitten against the wall, while breastfeeding the child.

This was his reaction every time when his wife tried to ask for his help or to make him involved in family caring. The beating continued and even got intensified when the young family moved out to live separately in the house bought by Ana’s mother, who was working abroad.

“There are enough places in orphanages”

“He would always repeat that he will not give up until he buried me in a grave. When I was telling him that the daughter will remain orphan, he would answer that there are enough places in orphanages.” Physical violence was combined with verbal assaults, psychological and economic violence. Hence, the man was not only taking all the money she was earning, but also imposing his opinion regarding her clients. “He would take the agenda in which I was putting down the clients to come for a haircut the next day and would dictate whom I could serve or not. And how could I refuse the women who already had appointments? And if I did not obey, I would be beaten up,” states the young woman.

Although her life became a nightmare and she did not know how to hide her bruises anymore, she never has thought to call upon the police or the social assistant. “They do not talk about this in our village. I was afraid and ashamed. And I was really hoping that he will change his behavior. I did not see something like this in my family, so I did not know what is to be done,” mentions Ana.

Upon her mother’s encouragement, she got divorced and for two years already she lives in peace and takes care of her daughter. Gradually she succeeded to start up a small business – a beauty shop right in her house, where she provides haircuts and make-up services to women from her village and nearby localities. She never talked to her ex-husband after the divorce, except for the day when she asked him to communicate with their daughter, who was wondering about her father. “He told me that he does not want to see me and our child, so I left him alone.”

There is no center for domestic violence survivors in Gagauz-Yeri region

Ana is one of the hundreds of survivors of domestic violence living in the Gagauzian Autonomy. Unlike the rest of the country’s territory, this region lacks any specialized service for supporting women who suffer from their husbands’ abuses. Women live for years with their violent husbands, being afraid of remaining with no shelter for them and their children. 

In cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, the Executive Committee of ATU Gagauzia intends to open over the next years a center where women will have the possibility to live with their children. They will benefit from assistance provided by psychologists, legal advisors, social assistants and will be helped to find a job or to launch a start-up.

The building will have about 20 places and will provide temporary shelter for up to six months. The institution will also operate as a day center and will provide psychological counselling services to women and men from the region.

To organize the sheltering center, the Gagauzian authorities will provide a building to be subject to a technical expertise. With the assistance provided by the Republic of Korea, UNDP will allocate 90,000 USD. To finalize the project, more 15,000 USD are needed – an amount which may be raised by all those who wish to provide a chance for a violence-free life to women and children.

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