On 26.12, representatives of the Autonomous Women's Center took part at the consultative meeting of the Ministry of Youth and Sports on the preparation of the Action plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for Youth for the 2018-2020 period, for the areas of health and well-being, and the safety of young people. The meeting was attended by non-governmental organizations representing interests, gathering or conducting activities for young people.
The Autonomous Women's Center organized an expert meeting that discussed the harmonization of the Criminal code of the Republic of Serbia with the standards of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which was ratified in 2013. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office, the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office from Belgrade and Novi Sad, the Office of the Protector of Citizens, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia - the Secretariat in Belgrade (III Departments) and the National Criminal and Technical Center, the Institute for Mother and Child, UNDP agency.
The Autonomous Women's Center explicitly demands that the state of Serbia change the definition of the criminal offense of rape, so that every act of sexual penetration is punishable, regardless of the form and nature of the act, committed against a person who has not given his/her free consent, which will be taken into account in the context of each individual case. This is also an explicit demand of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence which was ratified by the Republic of Serbia in 2013.
On November 10th 2017, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs announced an open call for associations to provide an SOS helpline service for women who have experienced violence (worth 30 million dinars). One of the requirements of this call is to have a license to provide this service, although the licensing of this service is a mission impossible, and, at the date of announcing the open call, no organization in Serbia had a license, which the Ministry, as the licensing authority, would have to have known.
Although the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs adopted most of the AWC's remarks at the first Open call for associations to provide an SOS helpline for women who have experienced violence (October 31st, 2017.), and repeated the Open call (decision from November 10th, 2017.), unfortunately, the newly announced tender also has elements that aren’t in accordance with the Law on Social Protection.
Following a letter sent by the Autonomous Women's Center to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs, with a proposal to withdraw the open call titled "Public invitation for associations to provide the services of an SOS helpline for people who have experienced violence", the ministry issued a decision to withdraw the open call.
The main finding in August was that the positive trend of implementing emergency measures of protection against domestic violence was kept steady. According to RPPO data for the period August 1-31, 2017, there were 3,832 examined cases of domestic violence, 691 cases more than in the previous month. Even without complete information, it is clear that the institutions of the system were faced with domestic violence, primarily the police and public prosecution, but also centers for social work, which fully justifies the legally prescribed coordination and specialization.
In the Second Independent Report on the Implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, the Autonomous Women's Center points out that the the implementation of emergency measures of protection from domestic violence has been successfully continued, since the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office reported that 3141 cases of domestic violence were considered in July.
Autonomous Women's Center (AWC) believes it is time to adopt the new Law on Gender Equality. We were surprised by the information that Minister Đorđević proposed the establishment of a new working group and drafting of the third version of the draft Law, particularly since the representatives of the ministry in charge of labor and social policy were involved in developing the current draft Law. Moreover, the new draft would require additional allocations from the budget of the Republic of Serbia and would inevitably delay its adoption. Therefore, AWC is requesting from Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to react and prevent further delay in the adoption of the Law, which is already significantly delayed.
"We use this opportunity to emphasize that the implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence was successfully launched in the first month. According to the data of the Republic Public Prosecutor's Office, 2,430 cases of domestic violence were examined in June 2017. Although the number of emergency measures taken under the authority of the police is not known, in almost half of the cases of domestic violence, the deputy public prosecutors filed proposals for extending emergency measures (1,212 proposals). The largest number of the proposals for extending emergency measures was adopted by the court (1,174 proposals)" - it is stated in the First Independent Report on the Implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence.