AZC logo saopstenjaDuring the previous weekend, another woman was killed in a family-partner context. The media reported that after the divorce and numerous unsuccessful persuasions to return to him, the perpetrator shot and killed the woman at her workplace in Bor. It was also written that the environment of the victim and the perpetrator testified that he was "of quick-tempered nature, but that it could not have been foreseen that he would kill her." Couldn't such an outcome really be expected in this case?

The scenario in which the victim leaves the perpetrator, who then begs and convinces her to return, accompanied by intense jealousy and often persecution, is present in most intimate partner femicides everywhere in the world, and this is confirmed by this and numerous other cases from Serbia. Although the media claim that there were no previous reports of violence in this case, the fact that the perpetrator and the victim were divorcing, and that she’d left him only a few days before the murder, suggests that there may have been contact with competent institutions in the divorce and entrusting of common (minor) children proceedings. In this procedure and in interaction with the perpetrator and the victim, were the competent institutions able to suspect and investigate whether there is violence or a potential danger of domestic violence?

The immediate environment of the perpetrator and the victim also had information that he possessed a gun, that he had been on the battlefields, as well as that he was the former president of the Veterans' Association (which employees in competent institutions had to know about in a small local community). We cannot say with certainty whether and in what way the war experience affected this man, since there are no records or systemic support in Serbia for people who were participants in the war conflicts in this area who are facing PTSD. What we see in practice is that women pay the price of systemically ignoring and refusing to resolve this issue, which is confirmed by a recent study that showed that (illegal) weapons left over from the war are used to commit violence against women (OSCE, 2019)[1].

Leaving the perpetrator (divorce, termination of partnership), the perpetrator's intense jealousy, possession of firearms, participation in war conflicts, large age differences between partners, are indicators that may indicate a high risk of death.

The fact that the already described scenario of intimate partner femicide is repeated year in, year out, is devastating from the standpoint of fighting violence against women, but above all from the standpoint of support for women survivors of violence in Serbia who are constantly being sent the message to report violence. Bearing in mind that three femicides have been recorded in Serbia in the past ten years, followed by mass killings, which can also be linked to the war conflicts waged by Serbia, they also open the question of when something similar can happen again and why there is no systemic answer to this problem. React before the crime, not after!

Za Autonomni ženski centar
Vedrana Lacmanović

[1]Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (2019). OSCE Survey on Violence against Women: Welfare and Security of Women. OSCE, Serbia. Last accessed on Sept. 27th, 2021.