Centre for victims of sex abuse may be forced to cut services

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2011, 12:00am

Hong Kong's only one-stop centre for victims of sexual violence is facing a funding squeeze and may have to cut services to stay afloat.

The Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women will hold a fund-raising concert on March 26 in an attempt to raise HK$300,000 to help the Rain Lily centre.

Established in 2000, Rain Lily is the city's only centre for female victims of sexual violence and provides 24-hour professional counselling services, medical treatment and help with the police.

Over the past decade it has helped 1,839 victims and deals with about 200 new cases each year.

However, the government declined to provide regular funding for the centre in 2006 after a start-up allocation from the Jockey Club ended. Since then it has struggled.

Linda Wong Sau-yung, executive director of the association, said Rain Lily needed at least HK$2.67 million to fund its operations and the centre was in the red to the tune of HK$300,000 last year.

The centre is delighted that the Community Chest is providing it with about HK$2.35 million a year up until 2013. But it still lacks HK$300,000 in funding a year.

'This is a stressful matter for counsellors and victims as we lack a long-term promise of funding,' Wong said. She is hoping for a regular government contribution.

Elaine Lam Yee-ling, an advocacy officer for the association, said the centre may have to cut some therapy groups and medical support for victims.

Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a lecturer in applied social sciences at Polytechnic University, said the government's stand was unfortunate.

'It might be because the government does not support advocacy work on sex violence polices conducted by Rain Lily,' Cheung said, adding that this was unfair to victims and workers at the centre.

The government supports a crisis centre run by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals but Cheung said: 'The two are different. The Tung Wah centre provides mixed services covering child abuse, abuse of the elderly to domestic violence of male victims.'

He said the government should consider providing a regular subsidy for Rain Lily.

A Social Welfare Department spokesman said it supported Rain Lily's application to the Lotteries Fund to move to the United Christian Hospital to continue its service and HK$1.2 million was approved for fitting-out costs, furniture and some equipment.

One rape victim said Rain Lily helped her recover from depression after she was raped by a friend three years ago. In a court case, the attacker was convicted.

The woman said she lost the will to live, but a counsellor encouraged her to talk about her case with other victims and she was able to ease the pain of her experience and started helping other victims at the centre.