azc sREPUBLIC OF SERBIA
Gender Equality Coordination Body
Ministry of Demography and Family Care
Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs
Ministry of Human and Minority Rights
Ministry of Finance

Belgrade, October 16, 2021

OPEN LETTER

Dear Sir/Madam,

In light of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - which in Serbia we welcome with devastating data showing that about half a million people are unable to meet basic living needs, and that the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion is among the highest in European countries and amounts to 34.3% [1].

The problem of poverty disproportionately affects women, which is why the feminization of poverty is often talked about. Women who have survived violence are in an even more difficult position within this group, as they usually take care of children on their own, are exposed to uncertainty and fear of violence, are unstable financially and housing-wise, find it harder to get a job and are often exposed to mobbing and sexual harassment. Moreover, they carry the burden of unpaid household chores. The most obvious example of the difficult situation of women survivors of violence is the recent case from Obrenovac, where two girls died[2]. Unfortunately, this is neither the first nor a lone case, in which the lack of comprehensive systemic support (especially for poor single women with children of school and preschool age) resulted in irreparable losses.

With all this in mind, we urge you to do everything in your power to establish measures and mechanisms to prevent such cases from recurring in the future, and to enable women survivors of violence and their children to have a chance to recover and live in dignity.

We remind you that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, to which Serbia is a signatory[3]. We request that, in accordance with the undertaken obligations, respecting the principle of due diligence, appropriate mechanisms be provided for effective cooperation between all competent state bodies, and measures be taken, meeting the criteria to respond to specific needs of vulnerable persons, including child victims[4]. We also note that Serbia is obliged to take legislative or other measures to ensure that victims have access to services that enable their recovery from violence, also including, when necessary, services such as legal and psychological counselling, financial assistance, housing, education, training and employment assistance[5].

Bearing in mind that your work and actions play an important role in preventing and responding to violence against women, we demand that you:

  • Provide sufficient funding to increase accessibility as well as general and specialized support services for women survivors of violence and their children.
  • Identify sufficient financial resources for different and flexible types of care for preschool and early school children (help with staying in the institution, care and care of children, purchase of school supplies, etc.) that take into account the situation of single mothers and women exposed to domestic violence.
  • Develop and support the creation of policies for safe and longer-term housing for women survivors of violence and their children through social housing policy measures and programs.
  • Provide a comprehensive and specific response to employment policies that allow for flexible working hours, affirmative employment, retraining and additional training support, counselling and career guidance for women survivors of violence.

In the hope that you will recognize the importance of these problems and take appropriate measures and inform the public about it, we are at your disposal for any additional questions

With respect,

Autonomous Women's Centre
Tiršova 5a, 11 000 Belgrade
Tel./fax 011 2687 190
E-mail: dobre_prakse@azc.org.rs

Updated: November 11, 2021

The response of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to the Open Letter of the Autonomous Women's Centre can be found HERE.


[1]http://socijalnoukljucivanje.gov.rs/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/siromastvo_u_republici_srbiji_lat.jpg; https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/system/files/2020-10/serbia_report_2020.pdf

[2] https://www.blic.rs/vesti/hronika/strasna-tragedija-u-obrenovcu-dve-devojcice-od-5-i-7-godina-stradale-od-strujnog/r7rsq1m

[3] https://rm.coe.int/1680462540

[4]Article 18, item 3

[5] Article 20, item 1