The National Assembly hosted a public hearing on “Prevention of violence against women”, organized by the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Jasmina Karanac said that the objective of the public hearing is to discuss the implementation of related laws and the measures and activities implemented in Serbia to prevent violence against women. For the Republic of Serbia, gender equality is a principle and strategic commitment which requires the concentrated efforts of the entire community on encouraging women to report violence and the society to help them.
The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia H.E. Andrea Orizio said that violence against women is a big challenge for any society because women’s socio-economic position is still considerably worse than men’s. Orizio stressed that this topic concerns everybody, despite their gender, and stems from deeply rooted stereotypes and prejudice that the genders are not equal.
MP and member of the Women’s Parliamentary Network Elvira Kovacs said that Serbia had ratified the so-called Istanbul Convention i.e. Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, in 2013 and adjusted its legislative system accordingly. “The legislative framework has been considerably improved to include mechanisms that, among other things, allow for the implementation of emergency measures by the relevant authorities. However, the institutions, media and the whole of society needs to step up the fight”, Kovacs said.
The acting director of the Serbian Government’s Office for Human and Minority Rights Dr Suzana Paunovic said that Serbia is the signatory of eight international conventions adopted under the patronage of the United Nations, among them CEDAW - Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. “The victims’ need to trust the institutions, to trust that they would provide adequate assistance. According to the Ministry of Justice, 119 thousand cases of domestic violence were handled in the last year which shows us that we have managed to encourage victims to report violence, as well as improved the efficiency of the institutions”, Paunovic said.
Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic emphasized the importance of the active participation of the academic community in resolving the problem. “We are talking about a phenomenon rooted in the submissive status of women in society and preconceived gender roles, therefore early education plays a pivotal role in eliminating inequalities stemming from social norms”, Jankovic explained. Preventing discrimination and violence is where future efforts should lie, she opined.
The participants of the public hearing were also presented the effects and experiences of the two years of the implementation of the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Law amending and modifying the Criminal Code by representatives of the Ministry of Justice Gorjana Mircic Calukovic, Ministry of the Interior Stana Pantelic and Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Biljana Stojkovic.
Prof. Dr Marija Babovic of the University of Belgrade presented the findings of OSCE research “Women’s Welfare and Safety”.
Following a discussion, the representative of Counselling against Family Violence – Belgrade Safe House Ana Andjelkovic shared a number of recommendations how to advance the implementation of the laws.