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Crown Princess Mary opens Danish Women’s Crisis Centre

On 20 April, Crown Princess Mary opened the new Danish Women’s Crisis Centre in Copenhagen.

The Crisis Centre is a residence and counselling centre for women who are abused. The new centre will focus on newborn mothers and pregnant women, and it can accommodate 20 women and their children, making it one of the largest shelters in the country.

The Crisis Centre is supported by the Mary Foundation, the foundation of Crown Princess Mary. In her speech, the Crown Princess said: “Too many women are exposed to violence from their partner. And too many children grow up in a home with violence – at home and in the rest of the world. Violence against women is today one of the biggest crimes against human rights, and WHO estimates that every third woman is exposed to physical or sexual violence from their partner worldwide. It’s a tough and sad statistics.”

Crown Princess Mary also visited the new shelter, where she looked at the facilities. The Crown Princess was also informed that two mothers with their children had come to the centre the day before to find peace after violent experiences. They are the first users of the centre, and Crown Princess Mary had the opportunity to meet with them privately.

Women’s crisis centres are very important in Denmark, and Crown Princess Mary praised their actions:“The opening here today is a further strengthening of work with the children and a strong signal that early action is given priority. Here in the house, mothers and their children will meet a holistic approach and a highly professional and specialised staff. The children and their mothers have been the focal point of your vision and idea of the house. It can be felt, and it will undoubtedly be seen when we are going around the house later. Here, children and their mothers can find peace of mind, support and strength to create a life free of violence. And in this way you support the individual woman and her children, thus contributing specifically to the realisation of world goals 5.2.”

Crown Princess Mary packing some of the backpacks in 2016. Photo: Kåre Viemose/Mary Foundation

The Mary Foundation also offered backpacks to the centres so that they could be used by children. The Mary Foundation has been sending backpacks to all children arriving at a shelter with their mother in Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands since 2008. According to Crown Princess Mary, the backpacks are a way to remind children that they have the right to a safe childhood: “The backpack is a reminder to the children that we see them and hear them, and that violence is never their fault. It is normal that all children are entitled to a safe childhood. And it is a tool for the kindergarten staff to start the difficult conversation with the children about their experiences. The little boy or girl who gets this backpack has had a hard start in life. With your help, he or she could create another future. A future without violence.”