Paulina Quintao – Seventeen children are currently living with their mothers at Women's Forum Communication Timor-Leste emergency accommodation, says the organization's shelter home co-ordinator Judith Ribeiro.
These children were indirect victims of domestic violence, she said. Most of the children are still breastfeeding.
Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET) mental illness assistance program co-ordinator Anibal Idalino Leo said both direct and indirect victims of domestic violence were at increased risk of mental illness due to the psychological trauma they had sustained.
He called on the government to introduce a policy to address domestic and gender-based violence as this violence jeopardized the development of the next generation.
"The children who are direct and indirect victims of domestic violence will become traumatized; they will be afraid of all men and shy away from society. Their situations will harm their mental health," he said.
Timor-Leste Parliamentary Women's Group (GMPTL) member Josefa Alvares Pereira Soares said domestic violence impacted on children's development.
The member of Parliament called on all relevant government organs, in particular the Social Solidarity and Education ministries, to ensure the affected children did not lose out on education.
"The government also should have a shelter which provides victims with psychological and medical care as well as legal and social assistance. They should not have to rely only on NGOs," she said.