Thursday, February 27, 2020

Via joint efforts of the governmental and non-governmental sector to more efficient combat against violence against women

The Coordinating Body for Gender Equality chaired by Deputy Prime Minister prof. Dr Zorana Mihajlović and the Autonomous Women's Center agreed at today's meeting on the recommendations that need to be undertaken to make the fight against violence against women more effective.

Taking into account the last two tragic events in the centers for social work in New Belgrade and Rakovica where two women and one child lost their lives, but also all other cases of femicide, it is necessary to systematically work on improving the competencies of employees who perform the assessment of violence and who bring decisions on entrusting children in order to avoid errors in risk assessment and prevent outcomes with tragic consequences. The Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs should supervise all centers for social work and establish binding instructions on the treatment by social workers and other persons employed in centers for social work, the statement said.

One of the measures that need to be urgently introduced are electronic records, as foreseen by the new Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, because only by insight into the electronic registry can we get information in which status every individual case from the scope of the prosecutor's office, the police or the center for social work is. Preventing the system from failing is much easier this way, Coordinating Body and AWC say. It is necessary to provide an effective investigation of cases of violence against women and in the family, as well as the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of such acts by sanctions that are proportionate to the gravity of the committed act.

The Coordinating Body and the Autonomous Women's Center also announce that the introduction of a national SOS helpline must be one of the priorities as soon as possible, because experts provide victims of violence with appropriate information and psychosocial support like this, as well as with the possibility to create a security plan for the woman and her children. As a service of social protection, we expect the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs to initiate the process of introducing a national SOS helpline as soon as possible, in which we will provide them with full support, it was said after the meeting.

The drafting of a National Strategy for Combating against Violence against Women is a state obligation under the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and as such should clearly define general support and protection services to all women throughout the territory of Serbia , as well as the availability of specialized protection services. The adoption of the National Strategy for Combating against Violence against Women will also enable systematic work on the prevention of violence, as well as the progress with media reporting on gender-based violence in the long-term.

The recommendation of the Coordinating Body for Gender Equality and the Autonomous Women's Center to the relevant institutions is that it has to work thoroughly on the harmonization of regulations with European standards when it comes to the rights of the victim of a crime. These institutions emphasize that it is necessary to define minimum standards for victims, which implies defining the measures of the encounter with the perpetrator of the crime, seeing children, etc.

At the meeting it was agreed that the Coordinating Body for Gender Equality and the Autonomous Women's Center meet regularly on a monthly basis in order to continuously monitor the implementation of measures to combat gender-based violence.

Strengthening the coordination of ministries, as well as intensive cooperation with civil society organizations, professional public and the media, is a prerequisite for a more effective fight against violence against women, the Coordination Body for Gender Equality and the Autonomous Women's Center said in a statement.