Corner Press release

International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November 2013

Violence against women represents a serious violation of human rights which as a phenomenon manifests as a result of the discriminatory treatment i.e. inequality between men and women. 

Considering that women should receive special protection from this kind of violence, the General Assembly of the UN with resolution 54/134 on December 17th, 1999 declared November 25th as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, which was preceded by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women from December 20th, 1993.  

Despite the fact that violence against women is a global pandemic and around 70% of women have been abused at some point in their lives, in the Republic of Macedonia the facts are disregarded and there is lack of improvement of the conditions in order to prevent violence and to provide the victims with protection.  This is confirmed by the fact that women who are victims of gender based violence do not receive the necessary protection from the institutions competent to provide that protection. This form of violence most often occurs within the frames of the family and that is why it is considered the same as family violence, although it is just one of the forms through which it manifests itself.

Despite the amended regulation, rulebooks and work protocols, the mechanism for prevention and protection of female victims of violence in the Republic of Macedonia in practice does not provide a visible and effective result i.e. suitable protection of victims and persecution of perpetrators.

Even after the violence has been reported in the police, in the centers for social work and the health institutions and after going through the labyrinths of the system, the victims become victims for the second time. Namely, the police officers that were called to react often are not sensible nor are they trained for the issue at hand and they note the charges according to their own personal assessment and conviction, and most often as “disruption of public peace and order” and therefore they minimize the committed criminal act. On the other hand, the centers for social work have minimal capacity and resources and are in no condition effectively and in a timely fashion to respond to the charges by victims, especially not outside the working hours. Violence does not occur during “fixed working hours” and the lack of emergency services for suitable and timely reaction is one of the biggest problems that we face.

Accommodating victims in shelter centers represents an additional problem because their number decreases and in most towns in the country there are no shelter centers, i.e. shelters for temporary accommodation of victims of violence. The double victimization of victims can be especially felt with the constant repetition of the event in front of different institutions, which leads to “labeling” of the victim in the living environment and after that the victims are discouraged to continue the procedure in front of the institutions. 

The Helsinki Committee reminds that the Republic of Macedonia is a signee of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) for preventing and combating violence against women and family violence, which regulates legally binding standards for prevention of violence against women for the first time in Europe, including family violence, in order to protect victims and punish perpetrators.

This year’s marking of November 25th at the same time represents an appeal to the Government and the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible and to adjust the domestic regulation in accordance with the provisions of the Convection. 

 Statement of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

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