awcl logo eng28.04.2020. The press release was partially modified after receiving the corrected information from the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office

In the first month since the state of emergency was declared the Autonomous Women’s Center has provided 430 services, as follows:

  • 148 calls from 127 women to our SOS hotline
  • 108 calls from 88 women to our Legal SOS hotline
  • 113 emails, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook messages exchanged
  • 52 online consultations with 36 women victims of violence
  • 9 legal submissions/briefs written

After the initial drop in calls and messages once the state of emergency was declared, women have started contacting the Autonomous Women’s Center again, primarily because the relevant institutions were not accessible to them or provided them with contradictory or insufficient information. Data shows that in this one month the Autonomous Women’s Centre had been contacted by 3 times more women than usual, even in the situation in which SOS hotline is available only from 10 am to 3 pm due to adjusted organization of work.

In majority of calls women reported various forms of psychological violence, with an increase in economic violence as well – especially not paying child support. Physical violence was the least reported form, although the number of these reports steadily increase. This does not mean that women have not been subjected to physical violence during the state of emergency. Quite the opposite, it shows that women who live with the abuser are not able, or are afraid, to report violence while curfew orders are in force. Those women who had reported violence to relevant institutions believe that they did not receive adequate protection – because the abusers received only verbal warnings.

Although the number of emergency measures in March 2020 was 5.7% lower than in the previous month and 5% lower than in March 2019, the number of reviewed newly reported cases of domestic violence at the meetings of the Groups for Coordination and Cooperation was lower by 21.6% compared to February 2020 and 18.4% compared to March last year. The number of held meetings of the Groups for Coordination and Cooperation was also lower, 15.7% compared to February 2020 and 16.8% compared to March 2019. At the same time, 24.4% less individual protection and support plans were created in March 2020 compared to the same month last year. Six basic public prosecutors' offices in Serbia did not hold a single meeting of the Group for Coordination and Cooperation during the month of March 2020 (although a state of emergency was introduced in the second half of the month), and another five had only one meeting (which is below the legal minimum). [1]

Large number of calls to the SOS hotline for psychological-social support and to the free legal aid line referred to problems related to child contacts with the other parent during the state of emergency, and even cases in which one parent kept the child despite the court decision. As there were no clear instructions, that is, as women were given completely contradictory information by various institutions related to respecting child contact orders during the state of emergency, the Autonomous Women’s Center had addressed the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, but the problems remained unsolved.

Many women and their children, especially those exposed to economic violence, become increasingly faced with basic and everyday survival issues. Therefore, the support to women to exercise their right to financial aid was also provided. The aforementioned requests, unfortunately, are currently not a priority for the Centers for social welfare. The news about the EU Delegation in Serbia giving 100 000 Euros to 14 000 most affected women in Serbia was more than welcomed by the Autonomous Women’s Center. What worries the Autonomous Women’s Center is the fact that the decision on who will get the financial aid was entrusted to the Red Cross in Serbia, which does not, and should not have access to any data related to women victims of domestic violence, single mothers, etc.

Having in mind all stated above, the Autonomous Women’s Center appeals to all institutions to act in accordance with the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence, both during the issuance of emergency measures and while deciding on their prolongation, especially taking into consideration new forms of risks from violence posed by isolation and prohibition of movement (due to curfews).

In addition, the Autonomous Women’s Center has created and published on its website a list of free services for women who are surviving violence, but also for other citizens, which are available to them during state of emergency.

During the state of emergency, the Autonomous Women’s Center provides it’s services to women who are surviving violence by phone and email.

SOS hotline 0800 100 007, from 10 am to 3 pm every working day.
SOS hotline for Legal Aid 065 2656 178, from 10 am to 3 pm every working day.
Help and support by email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., as well as via our Facebook account

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[1] In a press release dated 16.04.2020. this section was based on information obtained by the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office at that time:

Data received by the Autonomous Women’s Center from the Republic Public Prosecution Office shows that, compared to previous month, there was a 30% reduction in the number of issued court-prolonged emergency measures during March 2020, and that the Groups for Coordination and Cooperation reviewed half the number of the newly reported domestic violence cases. Also, there was a 60% reduction in creation of individual protection and support plans. Taking into consideration all of the issued public health measures, which everyone should respect, the fact that six Basic Public Prosecution Offices in Serbia did not hold a single meeting  of the Group for Coordination and Cooperation during March, even though the state of emergency was enacted only in the second half of the month, is concerning. At the same time, the First Basic Public Prosecution Office in Belgrade and the Basic Public Prosecution Office in Kragujevac held 12 meetings. As far as the Autonomous Women’s Center knows, not a single Basic Public Prosecution Office has held online meetings of the Group for Coordination and Cooperation, even though, during this public health crisis, it would be more than recommendable working model.