The President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Pere Aragonès, has opened the new Barnahus (children’s home, in Icelandic) in Tarragona. This home offers care services for children and adolescent victims of sexual violence, and has been operating since 2020 in Tarragona, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the same space.
“With the Barnahus, a change of paradigm is implemented in the care of victims, because the child is placed at the centre of the strategy”, remarked the President, who defined it as “a great leap forward” because it allows “coordination between all the professionals so they can work around the families,” meaning the victims do not have to travel from one service to another. “Any country that wants to feel worthy when it looks in the mirror must put the rights of children and adolescents at the centre of all decisions,” he added, and stressed the importance of “focusing on the victim and thinking about how we can contribute to reparation and how we can help them to have the fullest possible life.”
The President stressed that this is a “pioneering project in Catalonia and in southern Europe” and that the Catalan Government is giving it “maximum relevance,” seeking the involvement of the different ministries, because it has been shown that the Barnahus “is a successful model.” In this regard, Aragonès explained that, in Tarragona, “we now detect four times more child and adolescent victims of sexual violence,” an increase resulting from the “simplification of the steps in making a complaint,” because the entire protocol is activated with just one centralised call to the Barnahus, and “by making the care services adapt to the circumstances of the victim, and not the other way around, in order to respond more effectively to the child and his or her environment.”
Given the success of the project, the Catalan Government has announced that the Barnahus opened today “will be the first of 12 that we will create throughout Catalonia in 2023.” “We want all children and adolescents throughout Catalonia to enjoy maximum protection, maximum safety and, above all, the best care and accompaniment when they are victims of sexual aggression,” he said.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was the founder of the Barnahus model in Iceland in 1998 and member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bragi Gudbrandsson. Gudbrandsson said that the project in Catalonia “is very special because of the dedication of the professionals, because of their commitment to implementing it and to reaching this result, which I think is the most beautiful Barnahus in the world.” “It’s fascinating how they work as a team, and I am particularly happy to see that the members include prosecutors, judges and police, because it has taken many years to include them in other countries. What I did in 10 years, you have done from the beginning, I congratulate you,” he said.