This year for Women's History Month, Sarah's Inn is featuring women making history by working to end domestic violence and to support survivors. This week's feature organization is La Strada-Ukraine.
La Strada-Ukraine in Kyiv is an organization that works to combat human trafficking, protect children’s rights, promote women’s rights, and prevent gender-based violence.La Strada runs two hotlines to support people across Ukraine. One is 24/7 and is the evolution of the initial hotline that they created, which was initially open one day a week and focused on supporting victims of human trafficking, it is now called the National Hotline for Prevention of Domestic Violence, Trafficking in Human Beings and Gender Discrimination. They provide opportunities for their clients to consult with and find support from psychologists, lawyers, and social workers. The other hotline is the National Hotline for Children and Youth and is available for twelve hours a day, every day. The organization started focused on human trafficking but began getting so many additional calls for different types of help that it caused them to expand their services. According to La Strada’s Director, Kateryna Cherepakha, domestic violence calls “now account for 96% of the calls.”
Ukraine has been making advances over the last several years in their support for survivors of domestic violence. The government has been working to increase the number of shelters available for emergency housing and now there are a few additional domestic violence organizations working to support families. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cherepakha said in an interview with EUAM that La Strada-Ukraine saw an increase in cases of domestic violence during periods of quarantine. She adds that, “With the quarantine, victims of domestic violence and the abusers are staying at the same place 24/7. There is no chance to escape or sometimes to even find time to call forhelp.”After two years of increased demand for services, La Strada-Ukraine now faces the challenge of trying to provide service while their staff and clients are concerned about safety and getting basic supplies in towns that are being attacked.
In messages with La Strada staff, they shared that, “La Strada-Ukraine continues to operate two hotlines - National hotline for countering gender discrimination, domestic violence and human trafficking and National hotline for children and youth. Currently both hotlines work only through online channels. Although now we are trying to restore phone consultations. We provide informational, psychological and legal consultations. Now we receive many requests from Ukrainians inside and outside the country about available services, including in neighbor states. There are also many requests from children and their parents who need psychological support during these hard times.” La Strada-Ukraine has also used their social media to provide information around escaping the country, documentation needed to get into other countries, and tips for avoiding human trafficking when the women do finally enter these countries. Additionally, they are providing tips for how to support children and make them feel safe while they are fleeing the country.
“The biggest challenge (probably for all NGOs in Ukraine) is the safety of the staff and access to beneficiaries. There are problems with Internet connection, much time that the members if the staff have to spend inthe shelters and stress which influences the efficiency of their work. There is also lack of a verified and current information on which services in which regions still work. And of course, financial issues, since no one predicted and estimated the costs of work in such conditions. And there are limited opportunities and resources for searching donors for these activities.”
For more information about La Strada-Ukraine:
 Ла Страда – Україна, 8 June 2021,https://la-strada.org.ua/.
 “La Strada Ukraine: Domestic Violence Is More than 'Just a Quarrel between Two People'.” EUAM Ukraine, 3 June 2020, https://www.euam-ukraine.eu/news/opinion/la-strada-ukraine-domestic-violence-is-more-than-just-a-quarrel-between-two-people/.
 “La Strada Ukraine: Domestic Violence Is More than 'Just aQ uarrel between Two People'.” EUAM Ukraine, 3 June 2020, https://www.euam-ukraine.eu/news/opinion/la-strada-ukraine-domestic-violence-is-more-than-just-a-quarrel-between-two-people/.