Sunday, 8 March 2020

Officials Congratulate International Women’s Day

ZAGREB, March 8, 2020 - President Zoran Milanović on Sunday forwarded his message on the occasion of International Women's Day, calling for persistent work on the enhancement of the status of women.

Although we live in the times when women participate in all spheres of the public, business and political life, International Women's Day is an occasion for us to recall that it was not always the case, Milanović writes on his Facebook account.

We still have to work on the improvement of the status of women worldwide and also in the Croatian society, he added.

We must not stop until we make sure that, without exception, all women are entitled to the same rights as men, the Croatian president says adding that this is a prerequisite for Croatia to develop into a modern, progressive and civilised society.

He also writes that only an active role of the state can help in the elimination of the barriers that hamper the achievement of full equality.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Sunday sent a message with best wishes to female members of the parliament and to female citizens of the country on International Women's Day, underscoring that Croatia will continue promoting a tolerant and equal society that provides all with equal opportunities.

Jandroković writes in his message that March 8 is an occasion for everybody to recall the years-long struggle of women worldwide for their political, economic and social rights.

He calls for dedicated work on empowerment of women, and quotes the statement made by Pope John Paul II in 1995 when the pontiff thanked every women "for the simple fact of being a woman.” Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic."

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday expressed his best wishes on the occasion of International Women's Day, underscoring his cabinet's commitment to enabling women to have equal rights in all social areas, including the family life and activities in science, culture and politics.

"Every day is an occasion to express gratitude to women for their marked contribution to all spheres of the social life, thus making our society better. Observing International Women's Day is an additional occasion to recall the long and painstaking path the women have passed to ensure the exercise of fundamental rights in the struggle for social equality and justice. This also reminds us that promoting and enhancing the status of women requires unrelenting dedication and engagement of all the Croatian institutions and society in general," Plenković writes in his message.

He points out that the government enhances the status of women in a steady manner through schemes for their employment, higher maternity benefits, improving conditions for motherhood, and for instance through recognition of motherhood in the pension reform as well as by reinforcing all mechanisms taken to fight the violence and discrimination against women and children.

More news about the status of women can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Bernardić Denies He is Discriminating Against Women

ZAGREB, March 7, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Saturday that he was not discriminating against anyone, least of all women, and that his statement about the party's coordinators for the forthcoming elections was misinterpreted.

He was responding to negative comments triggered by his statement in an interview with Hina that there were no women among the SDP coordinators for the forthcoming elections because it was no time for experimentation and this work should be done by "proven operatives on the ground."

"These days we can see some trying to accuse me and the SDP of discrimination against women. I can see that some have tried to misinterpret my statements today as well. My statement may have been awkward, but that doesn't mean I'm not aware of women's contribution to the SDP, to the campaign, and how responsibly and hard they work on the ground," Bernardić said on his Facebook page.

By suggesting a zipped nominations model, with women and men candidates alternating in terms of their placement on the election list, "I wanted to show that I value and respect their work, and I will show that again in putting together lists for the forthcoming elections. I am not discriminating against anyone, least of all women, because women will continue to have my absolute support as they have so far. For me, more women in politics means better, more responsible and more honest politics, which also means a better Croatia."

He said he was proud and happy that all SDP lists for the Croatian parliament would have 50 percent of women and 50 percent of men, which in turn would ensure the equal number of women and men in politics.

"I call on other parties to follow our path. It doesn't cost any money, but it does cost a lot of effort, and a few bruised male egos. My message to those who are attacking me is that I will take a step further in expanding women's rights in the party by introducing a parity in elections for party bodies. Our task is to build gender equality into the foundations of our society," Bernardić said.

He concluded his post by wishing all women a happy Women's Day, marked on 8 March.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 16 December 2019

EU Project on More Effective Protection of Women Victims of Violence Ends

ZAGREB, December 16, 2019 - Speaking in Zagreb on Monday at a closing press conference for an EU-funded project that dealt with effective protection of women victims of violence, Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said that about 1,200 final court rulings that had been analysed in the last two years revealed all the weaknesses of the system.

"More has been done in the two years of this project than in the last 20 years. About 1,200 final court rulings have been analysed, both in criminal and misdemeanour cases, because we wanted to know what our penal policy is like, how we process the perpetrators and whether the victims are sufficiently protected. The results have shown that unfortunately the victims are not protected enough," Ljubičić said.

Ljubičić said that the victims were not satisfied with conditional sentences, which account for nearly 80 percent of misdemeanour cases, with amounts of fines or with the treatment of double jeopardy.

Maja Mamula, the coordinator of the Women's Room - Centre for Sexual Rights, said that there was not enough political will in Croatia to improve the protection of women against violence.

"In Croatia, femicide has been on the decline over the last few years, but each case of a murdered woman shows that we have a serious problem," Mamula said. She noted that most of the women were killed by their present or former partner, "which shows that the femicide was preceded by things that can be easily recognised and can serve as a signpost for change."

In 80 percent of cases, a woman's murder was preceded by physical violence, and in 70 percent of cases such violence had existed before. In over 60 percent of cases, a firearm was already present in the family and the perpetrators already threatened the victim, and in over 50 percent of cases the victim believed the perpetrator was capable of using violence.

A conference on femicide was held on the occasion of the conclusion of the EU project.

More news about the status of women in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Grabar-Kitarović: Women Have Still Not Achieved Full Equality

ZAGREB, November 30, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Saturday that women had still not achieved full equality in relation to men either in Croatia or globally, and she underlined the importance of the fight against domestic violence and violence in general.

"We have excellent legislation but we must continue to fight prejudices and stereotypes," she said at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the HDZ Women's Association "Katarina Zrinski".

Grabar-Kitarović warned that laws were still not respected with regard to equal pay for equal work, and that women, notably young ones, were discriminated against when looking for a job because they were asked if they had children and if they planned pregnancy.

She said that she had grown used to being insulted publicly but that current trends in schools, families and society in general were not good.

"If you can insult the President of the Republic, why wouldn't you be able to insult or beat up your daughter or girlfriend. The fight against any violence - physical, verbal, psychological and other - is one of the main goals of this society. The fight against domestic violence as well as violence in society in general," she said.

Stressing that women still encountered double criteria and prejudices, Grabar-Kitarović said that success was difficult to forgive, notably in the case of women who promote Christian Democratic and traditional values.

She also said that she was in favour of an expert debate on more flexible working hours, to make Sunday a family day, and that she would propose forming a team to analyse how much Sunday work was justified.

Underlining the importance of equality, Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković said the equality had to reflect on political institutions, the business sector and all other areas of human activity.

"It is particularly important that women have a big, recognised, visible and leading role in political parties as well," he said, expressing satisfaction that the first woman president in Croatia's history was HDZ member Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Warning about the problem of violence against women, he recalled that Croatia had ratified the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul convention) and that several laws that increase penalties for those who commit violence would receive a second reading in the parliament.

More news about the status of women can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Amendments to the Criminal Code Show Violence Against Women Is Unacceptable

ZAGREB, November 25, 2019 - Amendments to the Criminal Code and harsher penalties show that violence is unacceptable and that it is the duty of all government departments to protect women from any form of violence, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

"We are making the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women out of respect to the Mirabal sisters. The amendments to the Criminal Code and harsher penalties are sending a message that violence is unacceptable and that it is the duty of all government departments to protect women from any form of violence," Plenković said on his Twitter account.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is marked on November 25 in honour of the Mirabal sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa who were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on 25 November 1960 for clandestine activities against Rafael Trujillo's regime.

In mid-October the government sent a package of criminal laws to parliament for adoption that deal with domestic violence and recommended increasing prison sentences for domestic violence and sexual harassment.

More news about the status of women can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Proportion of Women in Ownership Structure of Companies in Croatia at 31.3%

ZAGREB, November 19, 2019 - The proportion of women in the ownership structure of companies in Croatia in 2018 was 31.3%, according to a study by the Financial Agency (FINA), released on Tuesday on the occasion of World Women Entrepreneurs' Day.

The study found that last year 26,676 companies or 22% were solely owned by women, while an additional 12,518 companies were co-owned by women with men and/or legal entities, which puts the total proportion of women entrepreneurs at 31.3%.

It also revealed that the proportion of women owners/founders of companies had gradually increased from 2010 to 2018, as the proportion of companies owned solely by women was 17.3% in 2010 and 22% in 2018.

Between 2014 and 2018, the proportion of women entrepreneurs in the total number of companies ranged from the lowest proportion of 27.7% in 2015 to the highest proportion of 31.8% in 2016.

"In 2018, the proportion of women entrepreneurs in the total number of companies was 31.3%, although according to an estimate by the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS), in mid-2018 Croatia had a population of 4,087,843 inhabitants, including 1,975,052 men (48.3%) and 2,112,791 women (51.7%)," Fina said.

Of the total of 121,034 companies, 57.9% were owned solely by men, 7% were owned by legal entities, 1.2% were co-owned by men and legal entities, while for 2.7% of companies it was not possible to determine which group they belonged to.

At 57.2%, women entrepreneurs dominated the "other services" sector. In this sector, 4,093 businesses employed 10,500 people, of whom 4,277 were employed in companies owned by women and 3,440 were employed by companies owned by men.

In nominal terms, the largest number of women entrepreneurs were involved in professional, scientific and technical activities, with 6,054 of them generating total revenues of HRK 3.3 billion. Of 19,565 companies in this sector, 30.9% were owned by women and an additional 2,330 were co-owned by women with men and/or legal entities as company founders.

The highest income per employee, of 961,200 kuna, and the highest profit per employee, of 88,100 kuna, were generated by women entrepreneurs in water supply, wastewater disposal, waste management and environmental remediation activities.

There is still a larger proportion of women in the ownership structure of companies in the services sector, meaning that there is a smaller difference in the ownership structure between women and men owners, while companies in other, mostly manufacturing activities are predominantly owned by men, FINA said.

Men-owned companies employ several times more people, generate higher revenues and hold more assets than those owned by women, which indicates greater involvement of male population in business, it added.

"The situation is changing, albeit slowly, despite incentives for the development of women's entrepreneurship, medium-term development strategies and efforts to include women, as much as possible, in the business sector, which for the greater part still belongs to men," FINA said.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 11 November 2019

NGO Calls for Financial Assistance in Care for Sexual Violence Victims

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - The Women's Room nongovernmental organisation warned on Monday that it was overburdened as the only organisation in the country specialising in assistance to women - victims of sexual violence, and it called on the government to ensure funding for its work.

"The issue of sexual violence has attracted great public interest and the Women's Room has been contacted by a large number of persons who have experienced violence, whether sexual or domestic, as well as by other members of the public, media and representatives of state institutions and civil society organisations," the NGO's coordinator, psychologist Maja Mamula, said.

She said that in October 2019 the number of phone calls to the NGO and the services it provided had increased by 200% from October 2018. In 2018, the NGO provided assistance in 57 cases, while this year there have been 280 cases, she said, warning that the number of threats to the Women's Room staff had increased as well.

"We are overburdened at the moment, and we want to continue working well and need support for that. Without support, we cannot provide timely assistance in crisis situations in which (the victims) must not wait," said Mamula.

Antonija Hojt Ilić, who is in charge of the Women's Room education programmes, said that the Women's Room had nine staff members, of whom four were professionals and worked at the NGO's centre for assistance to victims of sexual violence, with several external staff members.

Of the four professionals, only one is fully employed at the centre, Hojt Ilić said, calling on the government to ensure funding for the Women's Room as part of annual budgets.

More news about the status of women in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

More Stringent Legislation to Prevent Domestic Violence

ZAGREB, October 24, 2019 - The Croatian government on Thursday sent into parliamentary procedure several amendments to the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Protection from Domestic Violence Act which would impose more stringent penalisation with the aim of preventing and countering violence, particularly family violence.

"The important aim of this set of draft amendments is also to make criminal procedure swifter," Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said at the government's meeting.

Amendments of the Penal Code thus envisage that assaults against social workers or teachers would be treated as an assault against official persons.

The changes also introduce stricter penalties for domestic violence and violence against women. Also, in the future the qualification of sexual intercourse without consent would be treated as rape, which will be punishable with one to ten years' imprisonment.

The minimum sentence for domestic violence will be raised from the current three months of imprisonment to a year in prison.

Also, changes of the criminal procedure legislation will make the procedure swifter and in accordance with the EU acquis.

The proposed changes also envisage the abolishing of criminal libel.

So far there have been few cases of treating some acts as criminal libel and the minister said that this offence in the future can be treated through a civil action. If defamation is proven in a civil action, the plaintiff can seek protection and damages, according to the minister's explanation.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković welcomed the annulment of criminal libel as "a signal for the further respect of media freedoms in the country."

Amending the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Protection from Domestic Violence Act will introduce stricter penalties and is in accordance with our policy of preventing and countering family violence, he said.

Addressing his cabinet's meeting, the premier said that the amending of the above-mentioned laws was conducted in cooperation with legal experts and associations engaged in the protection of women and children against violence.

"I thank everyone from the nongovernmental sector for their help in making the legislative proposal more precise and better," the premier said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Strong Reactions to Jelena Veljača's Appearance in HTV's Talk-Show

Jelena Veljača, Croatian actress, writer and activist was a guest on the Sunday talk-show "Nedjeljom u 2" (On Sundays at 2 pm), and her heated debate with Aleksandar Stanković, the host, caused a lot of reactions.

We already reported that on Saturday numerous protests were held in several Croatian towns, supporting the victims of sexual violence and highlighting the inappropriate official response to several such incidents over the past few years.

In light of the growing awareness of the issues of women's rights in Croatia, Aleksandar Stanković invited Jelena Veljača, a well-known Croatian actress, columnist and writer-turned-activist to talk about those issues. Their discussion turned out to be quite heated after the host asked several questions that Veljača (and numerous viewers, who later commented on social media) found to be insensitive and/or inappropriate.

One of them was to do with the #metoo movement, which started in Hollywood, and Stanković asked Veljača to explain why Salma Hayek allowed assaults by Harvey Weinstein for fourteen years. Veljača replied that what he was doing was the secondary victimisation of Hayek, which arose from the fact that he's a white straight man who holds a position of power. She told him that he does not understand that men and women, even in the same position of power, are not equal, which is something that the feminists have been trying to explain for a while now.

She also tried to explain why it took so long for Hayek to report the abuse, that there's no way for us to know why it took so long, and that the women who were abused need to have the right to report the abuse whenever they choose to do so. After that, Stanković asked Jelena Veljača to explain to him the line between benign advances and sexual harrassment, to which she answered that the difference is clear, as advances can be declined without consequences.

After the show, numerous reactions were written on social media, including some strong disapprovals of the questions asked by the host, which prompted him to respond on Facebook today. He said that he refuses to clarify his positions on human rights issues, as he's been talking about those repeatedly during the twenty years of his career. He maintains his position on Salma Hayek but accepts Veljača's suggestion that each victim has a right to report abuse on her own terms.

He added that there are numerous comments he's received on social media, and while most of them are welcome, there are some that were insulting and threatening. He received comments that some of his family members should get raped, and that that would change his mind and make him understand the victims more. Those comments are unacceptable, and he will work hard to protect his family from such comments.

At the same time, the organisers of the protests held on Saturday also reported that they've received threats of violence against them, as a result of the protests and the talk show on Sunday.
Saturday, 19 October 2019

Protests Held in Support of Victims of Sexual Violence

ZAGREB, October 19, 2019 - Several thousand people rallied in Zagreb's King Tomislav Square on Saturday for a protest in support of all victims of sexual violence who do not receive appropriate protection from state institutions, with speakers at the event saying that the non-punishment of crime is a crime in itself.

The protest was prompted by the case of an underage girl from Zadar and the release from custody of five young men suspected of raping, sexually exploiting, blackmailing, and physically and mentally harassing the 15-year-old for a year, which prompted public outrage.

Meanwhile, a panel of Zadar County Court judges granted the prosecution appeal and ordered that all five young men be remanded in 30 days' investigative custody.

According to the organisers of the protest, the Zagreb rally brought together around 7,000 people. Apart from Zagreb, peaceful rallies were held in about 15 towns, including Zadar, Split, Rijeka, Pula and Osijek.

The protesters in Zagreb carried banners expressing support to victims of sexual violence and opposition to mild penalties for perpetrators of sexual offences.

The protest was organised by several women's organisations and platforms, which called for urgent action to be taken to protect the victim from Zadar and punish the perpetrators.

The NGOs called on the justice ministry to launch disciplinary proceedings against the investigating judge in the case over unprofessional conduct jeopardising the victims' safety and dignity.

They also called on the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor to transfer the case from the Zadar County Court to another county court to prevent possible influence by interest groups to the detriment of the victim.

The protesters also called on the police and social workers and court authorities to do their best to protect the victim's dignity and privacy in relation to the local community and media, as well as to provide her with psycho-social support and make sure investigative proceedings are conducted in such a way to prevent causing her additional trauma.

They also called for urgently amending the Penal Code to remove the crime of forced intercourse and introduce harsher penalties for rape, in line with a current bill drafted by the Justice Ministry.

The associations also called on members of the public to refrain from undemocratic and uncivil attacks on judges and suspects.

"The Zadar case that we all have been appalled by reveals the structural and institutional nature of violence against women, the ruthlessness of perpetrators of violence grows with their social, economic and political power. Unfortunately, this case is only one in a sea of such cases," said Petra Karmelić of the Platform for Reproductive Rights.

The dark and violent reality is due to the lack of a systematic programme of prevention, lack of support for victims and inadequate punishment of perpetrators, she said.

"Institutions and we as a society have failed," she said, adding that girls and boys were raised unequally, that there was a lack of expert and research-based education programmes, and that institutions protected perpetrators of violence and took part in it themselves.

"... We as a society are the problem and that is why the society must change," she said.

Karmelić went on to say that there were 15-20 unreported cases of violence per every reported case because victims were afraid to speak about what had happened to them and did not trust the institutions that were supposed to protect them.

In terms of autonomy, our judiciary ranks 126th in the world, and interest groups are given preferential treatment in trials, she said.

Ivan Blažević of the Solidarna foundation said that his definition of a cool guy simply does not work in Croatia.

This country needs men, who unlike cool guys, give their children love and affection

"In this country cool guys are those who hold high political positions, who govern regions and who beat their wives, the biggest thieves socialise with untouchable judges, war criminals and hate-mongers become reputable members of parliament, thugs officially open schools, and cool guys' children become cool guys who run over pedestrians with impunity, who beat reporters or own a hotel before turning 30," said Blažević.

He said that the country needed men who "unlike cool guys, give love and affection to their children, who tell boys that they can cry and tell girls to be strong and independent."

More news about women rights in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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