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(2010) Day 1 – November 25th – International dy of Elimination of Violence against Women

What about violence against women and girls?

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world. It is deeply rooted in gender discrimination and inequality. No woman or girl is entirely free of its risk, and no country goes unharmed by its impact.

Violence against women and girls, also known as gender based violence, is internationally recognized as human rights issue. Until recently, gender based violence was treated as a private or a family problem. But nowadays, it is generally accepted that gender based violence is a social and public health concern which penetrates in all spheres of a society. Women are subjected to discrimination and violence in many areas of life; in communities, in schools, at work, at homes…etc. It is apparent that women have fewer opportunities when seeking a job, that they constitute larger percentage on unemployed force, and therefore more susceptible and vulnerable to discriminations, violence, human trafficking, sexual abuse and/or coercion.

The United Nations General Assembly defines “violence against women” as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) recognizes that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which has led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women. UN and Council of Europe have expressed concerns that certain groups of women are more susceptible to GBV, especially those belonging to minorities and refugees group, as well as those in poverty. Youth is also a crucial group when it comes to gender based violence. There are parallels between gender based violence in relationships among adolescents and adult relationships, because of the continuity violence tends to spiral out of control, from verbal and emotional abuse, to sexual abuse and murder.

We must work together on prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. It is important to know what constitutes as gender based violence and domestic violence, how to recognize it, who are the most vulnerable groups, what are some of the root causes, as well as what programs are available to help those in need and how these programs could be improved.

It is a duty and obligation of each of us to stand up against gender based violence

(2010) Day 2 – What different people say about violence against women?

“Violence against women and girls is wide spread, but it is not inevitable. We can stop it. UNIFEM, part of UN Women, works jointly with other UN agencies to catalyze action, to respond to, and prevent violence against women as a priority.”

Erika Kvapilova, Regional Program Director UNIFEM CEE (part of UN WOMEN)

“A man who doesn’t respect and abuses women cannot be a real man.”

Yuri Afanasiev, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Coordinator for BiH

“Significant number of divorces in our country is a result of domestic violence. Women, if you report the violence, legislation system will protect you.”

Lejla Fazlagić, Judge, Municipal Court Sarajevo

“Violence against women is a criminal act and requires urgent attention from the state level.”

JasminkaDžumhur, Ombudsmen BiH for Human Rights

“Women are most common victims of domestic violence, but do not forget that their children suffer too. That is why our country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, must have zero tolerance on domestic violence issue.”

Nada Golubović, President of Association “Women United” Banja Luka

“I demand zero tolerance on women abuse.”

Enisa Salčinović, President of women section of Canton Sarajevo Association of Concentration Camp Torture Survivors

“Violence against women is not only the victim’s problem. Everybody is responsible. We should act together to stop it.”

Samra Filipović, Director of Gender Equality Agency of BiH

“Since the Criminal law changed in 2002, domestic violence is no longer treated as public safety offence, but as a criminal act.”

Anisa Pašić, Police woman – 2nd Police HQ, Canton Sarajevo

“There is no situation that justifies violence. If we do not deal with the violence, violence will deal with us.”

Sabiha Husić, Director, MedicaZenica

“Young people could turn 16 days of activism into 365.”

Katarina Vučković, Youth program manager, NVO ProniBrčko

“A man who abuses women to demonstrate his superiority is, in fact, inferior in all areas.”

Olja Latinović, Youth Program Coordinator, Filmski festival pravo ljudski

“Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born equal. Unfortunately, women are not treated as human beings in all parts of the world.”

Saša Madacki, Director of Human Rights Centre of University of Sarajevo

“Citizens of Sarajevo should know best that violence has no justification.”

Miroslav Živanović, Sarajevo Deputy Mayor

(2010) Day 3 – What types of violence are there and how to recognize them?

It is very hard to reach a full scope of violence against women.  Majority of those acts happen within four falls of home and frequently due to the factors of shame, fear, guilt and lack of information about adequate support services, it remains silent and unreported.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE

  • Forms of abuse used in order to gain power and control, with an aim to raise fear. Some of the examples of psychological abuse are: prohibitions, threats, insults, scorns, ridicule, contempt, blackmail, restriction and control of movement, isolation, destruction of objects, verbal aggression, threats to seize custody of the children, etc.
  • Risk of mental health and personality of the victim

PHYSICAL ABUSE:

  • Hitting, slapping, pulling hair, pushing, twisting arms, stabbing, strangling, choking, hitting with fists, feet or objects, injuring weapons, and murder.
  • Risk of minor and / or serious bodily injury.

SEXUAL ABUSE

• Sexual harassment, sexual abuse, incest, involuntary sexual acts, rape, and any sexual act committed against the will of another person.

• Sexual relations under duress by threats or physical force, forced or unwanted relationship or relationships with others.

• Physical and psychological violence

ECONOMIC ABUSE

• Prohibited employment, handling money and property, leaving no food and the denial of basic needs.

• Denial and withdrawal of funds, failure to pay child support and other forms that leave  victim without means of livelihood

What about cycle of violence?

The term cycle of violence refers to repeated acts of violence as a cyclical pattern, associated with high emotions and doctrines of retribution or revenge. The pattern, or cycle, repeats and can happen many times during a relationship. Each phase may last a different length of time and over time the level of violence may increase. It often refers to violent behavior learned as a child and then repeated as an adult, therefore continuing on in a perceived cycle.

The build-up phase
This phase may begin with normal relations between the people in the relationship, but involves escalating tension marked by increased verbal, emotional or financial abuse. In non-violent relationships these issues can normally be resolved between the people in the relationship.

The stand over phase
This phase can be extremely frightening for people affected by domestic and family violence. The behaviour of the person who uses violence in relationships escalates to the point that a release of tension is inevitable. The person affected may feel that they are ‘walking on egg shells’ and fear that anything they do will cause the situation to deteriorate further.

Explosion
The explosion stage marks the peak of violence in the relationship. It is the height of abuse by the person who uses violence to control and power over others.The person who commits domestic and family violence experiences a release of tension during an explosion phase, which may become addictive. They may be unable to deal with their anger any other way.

The honeymoon phase
During the honeymoon phase of the cycle of violence, both people in the relationship may be in denial as to how bad the abuse and violence was. Both people do not want the relationship to end, so are happy to ignore the possibility that the violence could occur again. After some time, this stage will fade and the cycle may begin again.

(2010) Day 4 – What About Justice System


Violence against women and girls is one of the most serious challenges of our time, not only does it violate their fundamental human rights, it prevents women around the world from achieving their full potential. States have responsibility to promote and protect women’s rights and to insist upon the accountability of perpetrators.

In BiH, government and donors are currently working jointly to strengthen several areas in the field of justice in order to enhance entity and local capacities to address the issue of gender based violence:

•             Implementation of laws:

Poor implementation of existing laws in BiH allows many perpetrators evade justice and avoid punishment.  The main problem that appears in the application of the existing laws is that are no mutually acknowledged definitions on the concept of domestic violence.
These are the laws in FBIH and RS that regulate domestic and gender-based violence:
Click here for the list of existing laws

•             Reporting the violence:

From all over South Eastern Europe high levels of violence against women have been reported. Bosnia and Herzegovina is no exception in this regard. On the contrary, the number of reported cases of domestic violence in BiH is steadily increasing. In spite of the magnitude of the problem, Bosnian society has failed for a long time to recognize the prevalence of GBV domestic violence as a significant issue.

“The problem is generally ignored and remains largely misunderstood”.

Domestic violence is still largely viewed as a private, family matter that should remain outside the realm or influence of the state.

„Only 5% of all acts of violence against women gets officially reported.1

In 2008, for example, 1631 cases of domestic violence were reported in Federation  and 259 in Republika Srpska . In both entities, majority of verdicts were parole sentences and fines, and less than 3% of cases ended in imprisonment.  Ubiquitous practice of lenient punishments is part of the underestimating the seriousness of domestic violence problem.

The purpose of punishing perpetrators of violence and achieving victim’s redress cannot be achieved only in criminal proceedings, it is necessary to simultaneously connect criminal proceedings with the imposition of safeguard measures in accordance with the Law on Protection of Victims of Domestic violence.

1 The Human Rights House and the Informal NGO Coalition: Report for universal periodic review, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 2009

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