Implementation of the Domestic Violence Prevention Law: Experience of Organizations of Women with Disabilities


The Coor­di­na­tor of …IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA SOS ser­vice Ivana Zelić par­tic­i­pat­ed  the Imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law: Effects and Chal­lenges two-day sem­i­nar in Bel­grade. It was orga­nized by the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter on 23–24 March with the sup­port of Kvin­na till Kvin­na, bring­ing togeth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ser­bian Women Against Vio­lence Net­work.

The pur­pose of the event was to dis­cuss the so-far imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law, which entered into force on 1 June 2017. The first day’s inputs were those of the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter. Tan­ja Ign­ja­tović pre­sent­ed an imple­men­ta­tion overview con­cern­ing this Law in entire Ser­bia, point­ing to its pos­i­tive aspects, as well as its imple­men­ta­tion chal­lenges. Van­ja Macanović talked about spe­cif­ic indi­ca­tors of its imple­men­ta­tion and data relat­ing to Cities of Novi Sad, Niš, Kruše­vac and Bel­grade, where­as Mir­jana Mitić shared the Coor­di­na­tion and Coop­er­a­tion Group par­tic­i­pa­tion expe­ri­ence of the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter. Domes­tic vio­lence vic­tims’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in Coor­di­na­tion and Coop­er­a­tion Group meet­ings was a spe­cial focus top­ic, along with the indi­vid­ual vic­tims’ pro­tec­tion and sup­port plans devised on those occa­sions. Acc. to the data from the 4th Inde­pen­dent Report on Imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law pre­pared by the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter, vic­tims par­tic­i­pat­ed in their own pro­tec­tion and sup­port mea­sures plan cre­ation with only 13 Pub­lic Prosecutor’s Offices in Ser­bia.  For instance, no vic­tims par­tic­i­pat­ed in Coor­di­na­tion and Coop­er­a­tion Group meet­ings in Novi Sad. In the sec­ond part of the pro­gram, the par­tic­i­pants prac­ticed writ­ing requests for access to infor­ma­tion of pub­lic sig­nif­i­cance addressed to rel­e­vant insti­tu­tions on the local lev­el.

On the sec­ond day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of orga­ni­za­tions deal­ing with mul­ti­ply mar­gin­al­ized women pre­sent­ed their data on imple­men­ta­tion of the Domes­tic Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion Law, as well as spe­cif­ic chal­lenges and obsta­cles they have been fac­ing in their work. Suzana Sal­i­je­vić from Osvit orga­ni­za­tion spoke about the prob­lems faced by Roma women expe­ri­enc­ing vio­lence. Ivana Zelić fromIZ KRUGAVOJVODINA and Snežana Mađerčić from IZ KRUGABEOGRAD talked about the prob­lems faced by women with dis­abil­i­ties in this respect. Kosana Bek­er, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ser­bian Men­tal Dis­abil­i­ty Rights Ini­tia­tive (MDRI), high­light­ed chal­lenges of women with intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ties in res­i­den­tial insti­tu­tions, where­as San­ja Kandić from Ati­na pre­sent­ed the posi­tion of women migrants and asy­lum-seek­ers in domes­tic vio­lence sit­u­a­tions.

In her pre­sen­ta­tion, Ivana Zelić point­ed out that women with dis­abil­i­ties face many chal­lenges, one of the promi­nent prob­lems being acces­si­bil­i­ty of rel­e­vant ser­vices and insti­tu­tions. She men­tioned that her orga­ni­za­tion is con­duct­ing an action research in sev­en cities in Vojvo­d­i­na (Novi Sad, Srem­s­ka Mitro­vi­ca, Vršac, Som­bor, Sub­ot­i­ca, Kikin­da and Zren­janin) in which insti­tu­tions (wel­fare and health­care, judi­cia­ry and the police) are giv­ing their feed­back on acces­si­bil­i­ty of their ser­vices to women with dis­abil­i­ties in sit­u­a­tions of vio­lence. The research is a part of the Sup­port­ing CSOs in straight­en­ing the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices to women and girl sur­vivors of vio­lence specif­i­cal­ly to mar­gin­al­ized group of women, such as women with dis­abil­i­ties and to sur­vivors of rape and sex­u­al assault, imple­ment­ed in coop­er­a­tion with UN WOMEN and with the sup­port of Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. Women with var­i­ous types of dis­abil­i­ties have also par­tic­i­pat­ed in the research and shared their expe­ri­ence about vio­lence they had sur­vived, as well as the way var­i­ous insti­tu­tions treat­ed them upon report­ing it.

Pre­lim­i­nary data indi­cate that most women with dis­abil­i­ties in Vojvo­d­i­na have expe­ri­enced or endured vio­lence (55.4%), where­as only 15.45% of them have report­ed it.

A fifth of respon­dents (20%) claim they have received no infor­ma­tion what­so­ev­er on the pro­ceed­ings ini­ti­at­ed upon they have report­ed the vio­lence. While 15% claim that police offi­cers gave only a ver­bal warn­ing to the per­pe­tra­tor, 10% got court-ordered pro­tec­tion mea­sures from domes­tic vio­lence, and only 5% divorced, aka got cus­tody over chil­dren. Respon­dents also stat­ed that they received addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, legal and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port.

Most respon­dents (41.2%) claim that there have been no for­mal pro­ceed­ings in cas­es of report­ing such vio­lence, while only 14.7% of them are sat­is­fied with these pro­ceed­ings. The respon­dents are sat­is­fied with the feed­back they got, most com­mon­ly from the Women’s SOS Cen­ter and IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion. They are not sat­is­fied with the actions of the police, wel­fare staff and the schools.

IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion not­ed the fol­low­ing issues con­cern­ing women with dis­abil­i­ties report­ing vio­lence per­pe­trat­ed against them: prej­u­dice, not know­ing their own rights, lack of sup­port, feel­ing of fear, guilt and shame, not rec­og­niz­ing vio­lent behav­ior as such, per­ceiv­ing dis­abil­i­ty as the cause of vio­lence, rare report­ing of vio­lence, inac­ces­si­bil­i­ty of insti­tu­tions, phys­i­cal depen­dence on the vio­la­tor, women are not trust­ed and, most impor­tant­ly, women with dis­abil­i­ties are very dif­fi­cult to tar­get and reach with infor­ma­tion about the avail­able sup­port sys­tems.

Despite ini­tial pos­i­tive indi­ca­tors con­cern­ing imple­men­ta­tion of the new Law, there is still a series of prac­ti­cal prob­lems, espe­cial­ly as re. women from mar­gin­al­ized social groups. All sem­i­nar par­tic­i­pants agreed that it is nec­es­sary to inform women con­tin­u­al­ly, along with a con­sis­tent imple­men­ta­tion of the Law, in order for it to be equal­ly rel­e­vant for women from all walks of life.

Pre­pared by: Ivana Zelić



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