Tutin combating violence against women and girls

In October 2017, Citizens' Association Atina presented results of the research on violence against women and girls among refugee and migrant population in Serbia, conducted within the project “Local support to the most vulnerable refugees”. The event was attended by representatives of nongovernmental and governmental organizations from Tutin, Sjenica, and Novi Pazar. This research was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

During his speech, Sead Rec, manager of the Asylum Center in Tutin, informed the participants that according to official records a total of 4,300 asylum seekers have been supported within this center, and that the refugee crisis had no effect on the citizens of Tutin due to an excellent cooperation and openness of the community toward this population. The situations of violence that took place in the center were resolved promptly, with the focus on the protection of victims.

After the introductory part, Marija Cvejic presented the research on behalf of Citizens’ Association Atina, and said it represents an observational cross-sectional study aimed at showing the prevalence and forms of violence against women and girls refugees from areas affected by war or periodic conflicts, primarily in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but other countries as well. The main objective of this survey was to gain a better insight into the risks and challenges related to violence against women and girls among the refugee population, as well as to learn lessons and create recommendations to improve the existing system of protection and support. The pilot research was conducted in six Asylum and Reception Centers, in Presevo, Belgrade, Bujanovac, Bogovadja, Banja Koviljaca, Adasevci, and Maternal Home and Mixaliste in Belgrade. Respondents were 162 women and girls who were staying in Serbia from April 13 to May 15, 2017. Considering that the pilot survey was conducted on a sample of 162 women and girls, which is not representative, the main findings are indicative and as such cannot be generalized and applied to the entire refugee and migrant population in Serbia. The survey determined that 66,9% of respondents survived some form of violence - physical or sexual, which represents a high statistically significant sample. The percentage of women and girls who survived violence, either physical or sexual, and were not allowed to choose when and whom they would marry was 74,9% of respondents. The pilot survey showed that 77,1% of the respondents witnessed violence against other women and girls, which indicates a prevalence of violence in the given sample. An integral part of this report are slices of five life stories collected on the ground, that provide a deeper understanding of the direct experience of violence suffered by women and girls refugees. A special addition are also field reports, written in the form of a diary, compiled by the researchers, that contain their personal insights into the issue.

After the presentation of the research, participants were invited to a discussion. A representative of the Center for Social Work stated that domestic violence prevention teams have been formed in all these cities, have regular by-weekly meetings, and deal with this issue not only for the local citizens, but also for the refugee and migrant population. Teams are also creating plans of support for the victims, which are being implemented by every institution in accordance with their mandate. The teams are made up of 2 persons, but it is certainly necessary to have additional resources, which was not the case so far.

A representative of the school in Tutin said that children are enrolled in school, which is one of the most significant forms of preventing violence. Representatives of the court stated that, until now, there were only a few cases related to refugees and migrants, 1 or 2 in which the refugees were the injured party, but that these cases have not been resolved yet.

Mr Sead Rec stated that, according to a survey conducted in Serbia, Tutin and Sjenica are the first places where migrants and refugees feel safe and accepted, and emphasized the important role of the local community, and individuality in work, which is what allows the prevention of violence and opening of a dialogue.

The Sandzak TV Network report on this event can be found via the link: