Monday, October 21, 2019

azc

The media reports that D.M. who was stabbed to death in Pancevo this morning by ex-husband P.M. has passed away. This is the fourteenth woman killed since the beginning of the year and the third since the beginning of this month. The media reported that a divorce was pending, that the abuser had a restraining order measure and that the victim was placed in a safe house. It could also be read that the abuser had been known to the police before, had a history of criminal behavior and had been in prison for several years, that the entire local community knew that he was a dangerous type and that the victim was afraid of him.

In our view, this case, like the one in Novi Sad, is the result of inadequate risk assessment by the Police and the Prosecution. Both cases show that emergency measures (temporary removal of the perpetrator from the apartment or ban on contacting and approaching the victim), which are pronounced in accordance with the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence, are preventive measures, and will not stop long-time perpetrators of domestic violence who have been previously convicted, who are "pathologically" jealous, who make threats of murder or suicide, who have weapons, who stalk their victims, whom frighten the entire local community. These high-risk indicators of the fatal outcome of violence have once again been overlooked by practicing professionals.

This outcome is not coming as a surprise given that, in addition to fewer professionals who understand the phenomenon of violence against women and do their best to protect the victims, most continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter, that this crime should not be prosecuted and is less important than other offenses such as robbery or drug dealing. That the professionals who need to protect and support victims of violence do the opposite is also evidenced by the organization of international conferences (such as those held in Tara mountain  in May) at which law professors and professionals from institutions write texts and speak against laws enacted by the state of Serbia to protect victims of domestic violence.

Of particular concern is the fact that those who think so have no problem in saying it publicly. Thus, in May, in the daily newspaper Politika, we could read an interview with the President of the High Court in Pancevo, Judge Stanka Simonovic, who stated that there were false reports of violence, especially in situations where divorce proceedings were pending. "When I see the sentence 'Divorce is pending' in the case, I think that there is a possibility of abuse of an emergency measure and that the goal of the woman is to improve her procedural position in a divorce case," she said.

After the woman has reported violence and filed for divorce, and the violence continues so the perpetrator is ordered a police emergency measure that the court should extend, a judge such as the President of the Pancevo High Court, based on her prejudice and personal belief, will not provide protection for neither the woman nor the children victims of violence.

The problem is that there is no sanction for such publicly expressed prejudice. Neither the High Judicial Council nor the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality reacted, nor did the Supreme Court order that the proceedings of the judges of the High Court in Pancevo are reviewed. The biggest harm done with this statement is that it has given a "wind in the back" to the perpetrators of violence. Violence against women is a crime!