16 Days of Activism - Campaign 2016

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign, the Women against Violence Network sent a letter and a calender to all institutions that work on preventing violence against women and protecting women from violence – centers for social policy, policy departments and prosecutors’ offices.

The calender for 2017 contains the fictional names of women who are surviving vilence every day and victimes of femicide, alongside basic recommendations and guidelines for dealing with domestic violence.

The calender was also sent to the Ministry for Labor, Employment and Social Policy, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice.

Calender (.pdf)

kalendar za institucije

Accompanying letter:

Belgrade, December 12th 2016

Respected associates,

We are writing to you to request that you respond to each report of domestic violence by immediately applying all measures prescribed by law and protocols, as this will result in a decrease of the number of women murdered by their partner or family members. 33 women were murdered in this context in 2016, and out of these 33 cases in every fourth the woman had reported violence to institutions. During the last six years more than 200 women have been murdered by their partner, ex partner or family member in Serbia. The situation is becoming alarming as can be seen from mass shooting cases that have happened in Serbia this year, in 2015 and in 2013. These shootings were motivated by hatred of women.

The Ombudsman reviewed 14 cases where women were murdered, and from newspaper articles he learned that in all these cases the victims had reported violence to authorities. In 12 of these cases he ascertained that omissions were made by institutions from various municipalities and towns, and that their work was inconsistent. He issued systemic recommendations on this matter to relevant government ministries.

The omissions noticed by the Ombudsman, also confirmed by women’s organizations in the Network, relate to the fact that laws and regulations aren’t being consistently implemented. The Government and relevant Ministries have adopted general and specific measures regarding cooperation of institutions, government bodies, and organizations in cases of violence against women within the family or in intimate partner relations, but they are not being implemented as prescribed. The general principle – that women’s security must be the top priority and that it’s the institutions’ job to watch over the security of women at all times – is unfortunately a principle that hasn’t been implemented by institutions.

Aside from implementing the existing protective measures, institutions must also focus on believing the women, putting their needs first, they also need to have excellent cooperation with other institutions and act in accordance to the law, and not personal opinions and attitudes – as all of this can result in decreasing the number of murders and assist women in leaving violent relationships faster.

Serbia has recently adopted the Domestic Violence Prevention Law, and three years ago the state had ratified the European Council’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. By accepting what this Convention states the Government has additionally obligated itself that it will do everything necessary to prevent violence, investigate every case reported and punish perpetrators. Serbian women’s organizations expect that all professionals working in institutions will react to each report of domestic violence by implementing all measures at their disposal to protect women’s rights to a life free from violence or the fear of violence!

React before it’s too late!

For the Women against Violence Network
Vedrana Lacmanovic and Aleksandra Nestorov