The state must react and protect victims of domestic violence!

The Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia and the Women against Violence Network have sent Recommendations for improving systemic measures in the field of prevention and protection against domestic violence to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Social and Veteran Affairs, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of the Interior. The immediate cause for the creation of these recommendations have been cases in which, during the month of July, two women and one child were murdered in Centers for Social Work.

According to the Women against Violence Network data, since the beginning of 2017, 20 women and three children have been murdered in the context of violence in partner and family relationships. The fact that in one third of the murder cases per year the victims previously turned to competent institutions which failed to provide them with adequate protection confirms that this issue requires a systemic response.

In order to improve the systemic response to the cases of domestic violence, the following suggestions have been proposed:

  •  a child who witnesses domestic violence should be recognized as a direct victim of violence, and their safety ensured through supporting nonviolent parent;
  • child’s presence in the case of domestic violence is to be considered a risk to their safety, and a basis for urgent action;
  • anticipate and implement special protection and support measures for children who are witnesses of domestic violence, including protection and support to nonviolent parent;
  • develop guidelines for the assessment and determination of the best interests of the child during professional work in the area of family legal protection, including the protection of victims of domestic violence, and taking into account that the right of the child to maintain personal relationships with a parent should be considered in the context of violence the parent is committing against the child and/or other parent, and the right of the child to be protected from all forms of mental and physical violence;
  • form specialized organizational units for family legal protection, including protection against domestic violence in the Centers for Social Work;
  • improve the monitoring of the implementation of protection against domestic violence measures in each individual case, prescribed in accordance with the Law on Preventing Domestic Violence, i.e. the realization of individual plans for the protection and support to the victim.

NGO Atina is a member of the Women against Violence Network, and one of the founders of MODS - Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia.