Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT), Autonomous Women Centre (AWC) and Women in Black (WIB) jointly organized a Workshop with Women’s Civil Society Organizations working in Kosovo and Serbia during which we addressed the rights and needs of survivors of sexual violence and in particular sexual violence during the wartime.
The prEUgovor coalition has drawn up proposals for key reforms that the future executive and legislature should work on after the elections on April 3. In addition to the general principles for improving the existing state of the rule of law and democracy in Serbia, the members of the coalition highlight, each in their own field of expertise, what the key problems are in the field of combating corruption and organized crime, anti-discrimination policy, migration and asylum and human trafficking, as well as regional relations.
The consortium of three non-governmental organisations from Serbia – the Autonomous Women’s Centre (AWC), Women in Black (WIB) and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) have sent an open letter to the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for the Western Balkans, sir Stuart Peach. “What we, as peace and women’s rights organisations, find especially important is the task of working on the advancement of gender equality and implementation the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) that is specified as part of your portfolio” – states the letter.
On January 17th regional activists and members of more than 40 non-governmental organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro called on institutions which are responsible for preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls to, starting in 2022, do their jobs responsibly and conscientiously, protect survivors, react urgently, and adequately punish the perpetrators because EVERY MINUTE COUNTS!
Gender-based violence, as you call it in the given opinion, is a recent term - and women's organizations, revealing the problem, talked about men's violence against women. The imbalance of physical, political, social and economic power between the sexes was the focus of this term. We believe that you will agree with the fact that the equalization of power between the sexes has not (yet) occurred, but that the term was first replaced by the term "gender-based violence against women" (the term used in the Council of Europe Convention), and then "gender-based violence". Women, who are predominantly victims of male violence and make up over 50% of the population, have become invisible through this terminological reduction, which takes us back many decades, to the very beginning of the feminist struggle for the visibility of male violence against women - the most widespread form of discrimination against women in society.
Yesterday, another woman and two underage girls were killed by the perpetrator, who, according to the media, was released from prison only a few days before, where he had been serving a sentence related to acts of domestic violence. It could be learned from the media that, in addition to the history of domestic violence, he also had a history of criminal behaviour, that he was once a member of the police, and that ten years ago he threatened the prosecutor with murder by planting a replica bomb in his yard. All of the above are indicators that could have been warning signs of high immediate danger of continuing violence and severe consequences. We ask whether the institutional system has again failed in the assessment of security risks and measures aimed at protection?
Autonomous Women’s Centre, Women in Black and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights have prepared five short videos with description of problems women survivors of wartime sexual violence are facing in Serbia. We invite you to view videos and share them.
The Autonomous Women's Centre expresses solidarity with all women who have spoken publicly this year about their experiences of violence. This year will be remembered as the year of the beginning of the end of women's silence. At the end of the year, numerous women who told their stories on the social network Twitter under #NisamPrijavila (#Didn’t report) reminded us that it is necessary to change the awareness towards understanding the prevalence and consequences of violence against women. Through the authentic confessions of women under #NisamPrijavila, we see that change is necessary in every segment of society because the reasons for not reporting violence are different and each one is equally important.
The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality responded to the Autonomous Women's Centre in reference to its public call to file a lawsuit in her own name and on her own initiative for protection against discrimination, in accordance with her powers (Article 46 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination). In her statement, the Commissioner informs about the content of Art. 33, 40, 43 and 46 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, Art. 34 and 40 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, as well as the criminal offense 317 of the Criminal Code. Judging by the content of the statement, we will have to wait for a long time before the Commissioner files lawsuits for discrimination, in her own name and on her own initiative.