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Consultative Meeting: Implementation of Domestic Violence Prevention Law – Advantages and Challenges

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Orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing sup­port to women with dis­abil­i­ties …IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA, in coop­er­a­tion with the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter from Bel­grade, orga­nized a con­sul­ta­tive meet­ing on imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law to dis­cuss its advan­tages and chal­lenges eight months after it has entered into force. The meet­ing was held on 2 March at the Blue Hall of the City of Novi Sad local assem­bly build­ing. It was orga­nized with­in the frame of the Women’s Dimen­sion of EU Acces­sion – Women’s Human Rights in Doc­u­ments on EU Acces­sion imple­ment­ed with the sup­port of Kvin­na till Kvin­na. The mod­er­a­tor fot he meet­ing was Ivana Zelić, the Coor­di­na­tor of the SOS Ser­vice for Women with Dis­abil­i­ties with the … IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion. The speak­ers were Van­ja Macanović, the lawyer of the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter, Dal­i­bor­ka Vojvodić Tomović, Coor­di­na­tor of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Unit and Juve­nile Delin­quen­cy Sup­pres­sion Group with the Novi Sad Police Depart­ment, as well as Ivana Per­ić, a psy­chol­o­gist of the SOS Women’s Cen­ter from Novi Sad.

Ivana Zelić: Imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law start­ed in June 2017. It brought about a series of inno­va­tions to Ser­bian leg­is­la­tion by intro­duc­ing emer­gency pro­tec­tion mea­sures against domes­tic vio­lence. Addi­tion­al­ly, it intro­duced risk assess­ment con­cern­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of vio­lence rep­e­ti­tion, manda­to­ry coor­di­na­tion and coop­er­a­tion of all rel­e­vant ser­vices, as well as record­keep­ing of domes­tic vio­lence cas­es in accor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of the Coun­cil of Europe Con­ven­tion on Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing Vio­lence against Women and Domes­tic vio­lence. There are still some unan­swered ques­tions, yet the sta­tis­tics acts as a dai­ly warn­ing. Accord­ing to the data of the Women against Vio­lence Net­work, 26 women lost their lives to domes­tic or part­ner­ship vio­lence last year, while this year the count is already nine.

Van­ja Macanović: The num­ber of indi­vid­ual vic­tims’ pro­tec­tion plans is dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly small­er than the num­ber of emer­gency mea­sures ordered by the author­i­ties. Wel­fare cen­ters fail to keep up with the pace of oth­er author­i­ties’ response, where­as time for ini­tial plan­ning and pro­tec­tive mea­sures is lost when dis­cus­sion of emer­gency cas­es are delayed for the next meet­ing of the Coor­di­na­tion and Coop­er­a­tion Group. Cas­es enter the wel­fare sys­tem from the moment emer­gency mea­sures get ordered, while the wel­fare cen­ters get no prop­er instruc­tion for their fur­ther han­dling. It is evi­dent that rel­e­vant insti­tu­tion are still not skilled enough in coop­er­a­tion (infor­ma­tion and data shar­ing), result­ing in var­i­ous queries. Spe­cial atten­tion is required in cas­es of order­ing emer­gency pro­tec­tion mea­sures. It often hap­pens that they are ordered to both sides, yet the doc­u­men­ta­tion proves they have been copy-past­ed from the order pro­tect­ing the female vic­tim into the order of the sus­pect­ed male per­pe­tra­tor of vio­lence, with­out pri­or inves­ti­ga­tion and expli­ca­tion of the cir­cum­stances due to which a woman has also been ordered com­pli­ance with an emer­gency pro­tec­tion mea­sure.

Dal­i­bor­ka Vojvodić Tomović: Sta­tis­tics indi­cate the oper­a­tion and infor­ma­tion of rel­e­vant ser­vices has improved, not that the inci­dence of domes­tic vio­lence has increased. The lev­el of women’s aware­ness has been increased, so they report it more often. It is more often report­ed in small­er set­tle­ments around towns that in town prop­er. The num­ber of third per­sons and insti­tu­tions report­ing it has also been increased, aka not only pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary vic­tims are report­ing it. In 75.3 per­cent of these cas­es, the vic­tims are women aged 31–40. Should chil­dren wit­ness vio­lence, they have no victim’s sta­tus in a crim­i­nal charge. In 90 per­cent of the cas­es domes­tic vio­lence equals part­ner­ship vio­lence. Devis­ing instruc­tions for imple­men­ta­tion of the Law by the insti­tu­tions would improve and equal­ize their prac­tice.

Ivana Per­ić: Women are in need of legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, while pro­vid­ing a sys­temic and con­tin­u­ous sup­port remains the pri­ma­ry chal­lenge. This year, a woman has been killed every six days, indi­cat­ing that the Law has not devised an effi­cient sup­port sys­tem for women. A prac­ti­cal prob­lem is also wrong assess­ment, which is a basis for pro­vid­ing sup­port and which can cause more dam­age than good in such cas­es. Women are often deemed as hav­ing dimin­ished parental capac­i­ty, which is an expect­ed con­se­quence of vio­lence, and which works for the vio­la­tors’ ben­e­fit. Due to an inad­e­quate way of pro­vid­ing sup­port to women, they often give up and return into the vio­lence cycle. They also get (counter) accused and they keep see­ing their vio­la­tors dur­ing var­i­ous pro­ceed­ings, which is sec­ondary vic­tim­iza­tion. The pro­ceed­ings strict­ly adhere to what a woman has said (e.g. vio­lence denial), instead of con­sid­er­ing the con­text in which she has said it or the rea­sons for her claim. Pro­fes­sion­als must know how to assess indi­ca­tors and how to empow­er women, instead of imply­ing that she was the cause of or con­trib­u­tor to vio­lence. Women need to prove that they are vic­tims of vio­lence, name­ly trau­ma, which is absurd.

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Services …Iz kruga – Vojvodina

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Services ...Iz kruga – Vojvodina
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Disability Info Center
Helpline for women with and without disabilities experiencing violence
Free legal support
Psychological support
Organizing gynecological examination for women with disabilities
Sex-positive counselling center