Sunday, 10 April 2022

Ombudswoman: 80% of Femicide Victims Killed by Persons Close to Them

ZAGREB, 10 April 2022 - In 2021, 14 women were killed, which is fewer victims than in 2020, however, 80% of them were killed by persons close to them, which is an increase and women continue to be the most frequent victims of domestic violence, Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said in her annual report.

"Femicide, sexual harassment, period poverty and political participation of women are topics that dominated the public sphere in 2021, however, the rights of gender minorities were insufficiently discussed", Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić says.

Still without response to violence among persons close to one another 

"Over the past seven years there has been an increase in cases of domestic violence reported as crimes and a drop in the number of such cases reported as misdemeanors, both before and during the coronavirus pandemic, with 2020 seeing a 27% rise in the number of cases of domestic violence reported as crimes", Ljubičić said.

"This was certainly also due to the pandemic, and such trends were recorded across the EU", she said.

2021 saw a slowing down in the growth of criminal acts, which is still not insignificant and stands at 12%. The number of femicide cases dropped as well, but the share of women killed by persons close to them rose.

State institutions still lack a response with which to address the causes of gender-based domestic and general violence, including violence against women, she warned.

The increase in the number of crimes and the decline in the number of femicide cases is definitely owing to increased efforts police have been investing in recent years in raising awareness and educating staff about the problem.

Stricter legislative and practical definition of domestic and gender-based violence has possibly helped reduce the number of murder cases but that will be possible to determine with certainty in the future, she said.

Civic initiatives encourage victims to testify 

Ljubičić warned that in 2021 there were 100 complaints of sexual harassment, a four-fold increase from the year before, which, she said, is owing to civic initiatives that provided the victims with a public platform to present their testimonies.

An increase in reports of sexual harassment was also recorded by the Ministry of the Interior, having registered 98 such reports, with 85 of the victims being women and 13 men, she said, noting that women were more frequently victims of gender-based violence, notably sexual.

Pay gap smaller, however, not owing to policies but pandemic 

According to statistics on gross pay by gender, in 2020 and 2021 the pay gap between men and women decreased.

Standing at 13% in 2019, the pay gap almost halved in 2020, to 6.9% and went up mildly to 7% in 2021.

An analysis leads to the conclusion that the reduction of the pay gap cannot be attributed to an affirmative and planned economic policy but rather to the consequences of the pandemic on the labour market, with an increase in the share of work from home and a decrease in the number of days spent on sick leave to care for a family member, Ljubičić said.

Still no election gender quotas

Last year was marked by local elections and even though the share of women in local and regional government bodies grew by 2.9%, there is still no true implementation of gender quotas, with the 27% share of women in those bodies being still far below the legally prescribed 40%, the ombudswoman warned, noting that last year's local elections were the second local elections at which fines were applied for proposers of slates not complying with the gender quota.

Ljubičić called on political parties to encourage equal participation of women in party structures and at all levels, and on prosecutorial authorities to consistently file misdemeanor charges against those not complying with the principle of equality. She urged local authorities to sign the European charter on gender equality at the local level and adopt an action plan.

Significant increase in hate crimes against LGBT community

In 2021 a significant increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity was registered, and for the first time in ten years the Pride parade in Zagreb was marked by a number of verbal and physical assaults on its participants.

Of a total of 101 crimes motivated by hate, 13 were motivated by the victim's sexual orientation and one by their gender identity, an increase of 75% from 2020 and of 133% from 2019.

The number of misdemeanors motivated by prejudice or hate based on sexual orientation was 315.

Asked if the significant increase could be also due to intolerant statements by politicians that could be heard often in the election campaign, Ljubičić said that inappropriate statements by politicians and other public figures can contribute to a rise in homophobia and intolerance.

Combined with the lack of systematic civic education at all levels of the education system, this can result in the demonstration of open aggression towards members of gender and sexual minorities, she said.

The ombudswoman also noted that one of the problems that was not being given adequate attention was the complex procedure of acquiring the right and access to medical services for gender minorities.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Croatian Criminal Code Amendments Come into Force

August 5, 2021 - For the first time in history, Croatia criminalised the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent (colloquially known as revenge porn). Let's take a look at the recent Croatian Criminal Code amendments made in an attempt to battle crimes such as the violation of privacy, abuse, and cybercrime.

On July 31, 2021, new amendments to the Croatian Criminal Code entered into force. Thus, from 2013 to 2021, over the course of just eight years, Croatia has changed its criminal law no less than six times, mainly to comply with wider EU laws. This time was no exception, as the cause for yet another set of changes was the transposition of two EU directives - one on combating fraud and the counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment, and one on combating money laundering.

Although no public consultation has been planned for the proposed sixth amendment of the Criminal Code, B.a.B.e. (Be active. Be emancipated.) An organisation for gender equality and the protection of human rights for all launched a petition for the introduction of a legal framework for the prosecution of revenge porn, which involves the non-consensual publication and distribution of sexually explicit content.

As stated in their press release on May 13th, ''Let's stop revenge pornography!'': ''Pornography without consent is usually preceded by the voluntary sharing of intimate photos between partners taken at a time when there was an emotional connection, but solely with the intention that that intimate content is intended for the then partner and with confidence that such content will never be abused in the future.

Revenge pornography typically occurs because the ex-partner seeks revenge for the breakup, which leads the victim to feelings of fear, shame, anxiety, and other negative emotions, the consequences of which can be so far-reaching that they can cause the victim long-term suffering.''

They added that ''intimate videos or images are often shared in conjunction with other personal information of the victim, including their name, address of residence or employer, telephone numbers, links to their social media profiles, email addresses, etc., which makes victims more exposed and vulnerable.''

The press release emphasised that ''the perpetrator doesn't necessarily have to be an ex-partner, bearing in mind that videos and photos can be taken without the victim's knowledge'' and that ''a victim of revenge porn can be any person, regardless of their sexual behaviour and possible history of partnerships.''

The statement included examples of the legal frameworks in place for battling revenge porn in several European countries, as well as in distant Australia.

B.a.b.e.'s initiative was supported by several other NGOs and collected close to 10,000 signatures. 

Thanks to their intervention, revenge porn was criminalised under the name ''the abuse of sexually explicit footage'', in the head of the Criminal Code titled ''Criminal Offences Against Privacy'', and those engaging in it can be prosecuted upon the victim's request.

Although the criminal offence of the unauthorised use of personal data had already been included in the Croatian Criminal Code, it didn't provide a framework for the prosecution of the use of photographs and videos which, at the time, were made with the victim's prior consent, nor did it take into consideration the fact that such footage is usually made in consensual, sexually intimate situations based on trust, which puts the victim in an especially vulnerable position. 

With this in mind, Article 144a of Criminal Code states that ''Whoever abuses a relationship of trust and without the consent of the filmed person and makes available to a third party a recording of sexually explicit content taken with the consent of that person for personal use and thus violates that person's privacy, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to one year.

(2) The punishment referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be imposed on anyone who uses a computer system or otherwise creates a new or alters an existing recording of sexually explicit content and uses that recording as a right, thereby violating the privacy of the person on that recording.

(3) Whoever commits the criminal offence referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article via a computer system or network or in any other way due to which the recording has become available to a larger number of persons shall be punished by imprisonment for up to three years.''

If you were to compare the earlier and the present version of the text of the Criminal Code, you'd also notice that small but still important changes were also made to chapters that have to do with security measures, crimes against sexual freedom, and the non-enforcement of measures to protect the well-being of children and other vulnerable groups.

Perhaps influenced by the 2020 report of the Parliament's Committee for Gender Equality, which cites an increase in domestic violence of 43% in comparison to 2019, as well as the tragic death of a two-year-old girl at the hands of her parents, these changes are, hopefully, harbingers of a more consistent and stricter applications of Croatian criminal law. 

For example, security measures (which can be rendered in addition to a prison sentence for certain crimes) no longer depend on the discretionary decision of a judge in the criminal procedure.

For an illustration, perpetrators of offences against children, offences against life and limb, as well as offences against humanity, to name a few, are be prohibited from engaging in duty or profession related to children, for a set period of time or indefinitely, even if the offence in question didn't occur during the exercise of such a duty or the taking up of a profession.

The previous legal framework allowed the judge to decide whether or not the application of this measure is unnecessary, even when the abovementioned crimes had been committed.

The situation is similar for the security measure of removing the domestic abuse offender from the household they share with the victim. Again, the court must apply this measure while it previously depended on the court's free assessment.

Another important change is the introduction of a ''present or former intimate partner'' under the definition of a close person. Closely related to this, sexual harassment, which could previously be prosecuted only on the victim's request, will from now on be prosecuted ex officio.

Finally, the offence of the non-enforcement of the decision to protect children made by a court, a centre for social welfare or a state body now protects other vulnerable categories of persons too, such as pregnant women and persons with significant mental or physical impairment. Penalties are imposed not only onto those who don't enforce decisions of the cited authorities, but also those who don't enforce them promptly or grossly disregard the rules of their profession, resulting in the endangerment of the health or development of a child, i.e., the health or well-being of another vulnerable person.

Bearing all of this in mind, adapting the laws to the changing times is not enough. The most important test of having an efficient legal system comes with correct and timely execution. As can be seen in the previous paragraph, responsibility for this rests not only on the police, courts, and state attorneys but on everyone whose job description entails working with vulnerable groups.

While introducing new offences to combat unwanted behaviours is commendable, it would also be good to raise Croatia's overall social awareness of the effect our actions can have on others.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Aladrović: Ministry Stands Behind Administrative Findings in Little Girl's Case

ZAGREB, 26 April, 2021 - Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović said on Monday he supports a ministry report that identified omissions by welfare services in Nova Gradiška in the case of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who died as a consequence of domestic violence, a report which contradicts expert reports.

The Chamber of Social Workers and Croatian Chamber of Psychologists conducted separate expert analyses of the case and concluded that the social workers and psychologists working on the case acted according to standards, while the ministry last Friday said that it would examine the findings and forward everything to the County Prosecutor in Slavonski Brod.

"We, as the ministry, support the administrative oversight findings. The oversight identified certain mistakes in procedure and the findings have been submitted to the County Prosecutor as will the results of the expert analysis. I cannot comment on who was wrong, the chamber or the ministry," said Minister Aladrović while presenting an action plan to improve the social welfare system.

He said that the ministry had immediately sent a supervision team which compiled a report that, he said, is an indicator of the efficient work of public administration and not hasty decision making. One of the reasons why the Chamber of Social Workers' report took longer was because the social worker involved in the case was COVID positive, he added.

He said the omissions identified by the ministry's supervision team were sufficient to dismiss the director of the welfare centre in Nova Gradiška. The ministry does not want to impact the chamber's findings but there isn't any third body that could determine any further procedures, he added.

"There currently isn't any legal framework on how to reconcile those two findings and conflicts," said Aladrović and added that the only thing he can do is to send all the findings to the County Prosecutor to see if there is cause for any other kind of responsibility.

Amendments to the Family Law not planned for this year

As far as amendments to the Family Law are concerned with regard to taking children from their birth parents, Aladrović said that that is a complex bill that wasn't planned in the government's legislative activities for this year and is not a priority, but "we are not unwilling to discuss the Family Law as well in the following period" because there is room for improvement.

To read more about politics in Croatia, follow our dedicated page.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Severely Beaten Little Girl Dies

April 4, 2021 - The severely injured girl of two and a half, who was brought to Zagreb's children's hospital from Nova Gradiška on Wednesday, died on Sunday, the Zagreb hospital's director, Goran Roić, said in a press release.

Despite all the treatments undertaken and doctors' exceptional efforts, her condition critically deteriorated, and brain death was confirmed, he added.

Speaking to Hina on Saturday, Roić said the girl's condition remained unchanged and that her life continued to be in danger. Earlier, he told the girl had been in serious condition when she was admitted, on mechanical ventilation, and in a brain coma due to craniocerebral trauma.

Parents remanded in custody, local social welfare center director sacked

The girl was brought to the Nova Gradiška general hospital on Wednesday morning by her mother, who said the child had fallen. The doctors tried to revive her, but she was transferred to Zagreb in the afternoon due to the severity of the injuries. The head of the Nova Gradiška hospital, Josip Kolodziej, said the injuries were severe, notably to the head, but that they were all over the girl's body.

On Saturday, a Slavonski Brod County Court judge remanded the parents in custody for one month. They admitted in part to the crime of violating the child's rights.

The mother is charged with hitting the child with inappropriate force, as a result of which the girl ended up in the Hospital for Children's Diseases in Zagreb.

The mother has been remanded in custody because of the risk of obstructing the course of justice by interfering with witnesses. In contrast, the father has been remanded for the same reason and the risk of repeating the crime.

The mother is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, while the father is charged with violating the child's rights and neglecting and abusing all four of their children.

Investigators suspect that the girl was abused between November 2020 and 31 March 2021, while the other three children, who have been separated from their parents, are believed to have been abused for a longer time.

The Nova Gradiška, Social Welfare Centre, has been aware of this family because the father was reported for domestic violence before. The girl was in a foster family for over a year, but the center returned her to her parents at their request.

The director of the center, Branko Medunić, was sacked after an administrative inspection found irregularities at the center.

On Saturday, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović announced amendments to the Social Welfare Act to improve the quality of service for beneficiaries. 

To read more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Parents of Severely Beaten Girl Remanded in Custody

April 3, 2021 - The parents of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who has been admitted to hospital with severe head and bodily injuries have been remanded in custody, Slavonski Brod County Court investigating judge Mile Soldo ruled on Saturday.

The mother is charged with hitting the child with inappropriate force. As a result, the girl has ended up in the Hospital for Children's Diseases in Zagreb, where doctors are fighting for her life.

The mother has been remanded in custody because of the risk of obstructing the course of justice by interfering with witnesses. In contrast, the father has been remanded for the same reason, and because of the risk of repeating the crime, Soldo told the press.

The mother is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, while the father is charged with violating the child's rights and neglecting and abusing all four of their children.

Investigators suspect that the girl was abused between November 2020 and 31 March 2021, while the other three children, who have been separated from their parents, are believed to have been abused for a longer time.

The couple, residents in Nova Gradiška, have been taken to a remand center in Požega, about 170 kilometers east of Zagreb.

To read more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Social Welfare Centre Director Sacked After Domestic Violence Case

April 3, 2021- Branko Medunić has been relieved of his duties as the Social Welfare Center director in the eastern town of Nova Gradiška following a probe into a domestic violence case in which a two and a half-year-old girl suffered life-threatening injuries.

The center's governing council decided on Saturday. It was announced by the Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Josip Aladrović, at a press conference.

The girl has been admitted to Zagreb's children's hospital with severe injuries to the head and body, and doctors are fighting for her life. The parents have been arrested, and a criminal investigation is underway.

The Social Welfare Centre has been aware of this family because the father was reported for domestic violence before. The girl was in a foster family for over a year, but the center returned her to her parents at their request.

The parents have partly admitted the crime of violating the child's rights, county prosecutor Mirela Šmital confirmed on Saturday. She said that the prosecution would move to have both parents remanded in investigative custody.

The mother (24)  is the first defendant and is charged with five counts of violating the child's rights and inflicting grievous bodily harm. In comparison, the father (27)  is charged with four counts of violating the child's rights and inflicting grievous physical harm. The parents are expected to be brought before the investigating judge this afternoon.

Irregularities are found at the social welfare center.

Minister Aladrović said that Medunić was relieved of his duties after an administrative inspection found irregularities at the center. He said that the complete results of the examination would be available no later than Wednesday.

"Social workers do an extremely responsible job which is important for the stability of society. We must all be aware of their responsibility, but any potential irresponsibility must be penalized," the minister said.

"Anyone who causes damage to human life or health will be penalized. We can't afford to make any concessions in that regard. We must make a distinction between people who do their job responsibly and those who do not," he added.

The head of the Directorate for Family and Social Policy, Marija Barilić, said that the girl had been separated early on because of the risk posed by her parents but was later returned to her family, which she said was a mistake. 

"It was a mistake. The child should never have been returned to its family. It should have stayed in the foster family," Barilić said.

The Social Welfare Act to be amended

Aladrović announced amendments to the Social Welfare Act to improve the quality of service for beneficiaries. He said that the amendment process had been launched before this tragic event. "I admit that we have structural problems in the social welfare domain, but I am committed to removing them," he stressed.

The amendments would strengthen the system and reduce social workers' work obligations to focus on the essential aspects of their work. The amended law would also promote life-long learning, and a Social Welfare Academy would be established to focus on the professional career of staff at all social welfare centers. 

Aladrović said that social welfare centers' operation would be centralized to ensure more efficient management and job standardization and avoid cases like the one from Nova Gradiška. 

He announced that under the amended law, family centers would be separated from social welfare centers. "We want to empower the family, that is both our world-view position and our social responsibility."

"We are deeply aware of the challenges we are coping with, but I want to make a clear political message that we will address these challenges efficiently and that we will overcome them," Aladrović said, adding that the Nova Gradiška incident had only "accelerated and simplified" the decision to amend the law.

To read more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Ombudsman For Children: We Must Not Ignore Violence

April 3, 2021- The steering council of the social welfare center in Nova Gradiška on Friday initiated the dismissal of the center's director, Branko Medunić, and Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović will second the motion, the ministry said unofficially.

Following the serious injuring of a girl of two and a half, hospitalized in Zagreb and in critical condition, the ministry sent inspectors to the center. They established certain irregularities. Medunić is expected to be relieved of duty on Saturday.

Aladrović said on Friday the case would be analyzed "to the tiniest detail" to see if the system was "possibly responsible," and he condemned any form of violence.

Brod-Posavina County police said on Friday night the girl's parents were placed in custody after it was established that the child sustained several head and body injuries as a result of corporal punishment.

A criminal investigation established that the father (27) and mother (24) grossly neglected their duty to raise their child and that they abused her and grossly violated her rights by physically punishing her, police said.

The girl was brought to the Nova Gradiška hospital on Wednesday and then transferred to Zagreb's children's hospital.

The local social welfare center had known about the family from before because the father was reported for domestic violence. The girl was in a foster family for over a year, but the center returned her to the parents at their request.

Following the parents' arrest, their three other children, aged several months to four, have been placed with a foster family.

Ombudsman for Children: We must not ignore violence

Ombudsman for Children Helenca Pirnat Dragičević said on Friday that violence must not be ignored and that anyone who knew or suspected child abuse or neglect had the duty to report it to the authorities.

Speaking on Croatian Television, she said her office was following this case and that it had requested reports from the police and the Nova Gradiška social welfare center.

She said it was important to investigate the case thoroughly and that in protecting children from violence, all systems needed to act in sync.

She wondered how such systematic abuse might have gone unnoticed, given that doctors confirmed the girl had been abused and the father reported for domestic violence.

In 2020, her office received 76 reports of domestic violence and 64 of child neglect. She said but noted that this was not an indicator of the problem's real scope, only of certain difficulties in protecting children from violence.

According to Interior Ministry data, 1,849 crimes against child rights were reported in 2020, up 44% of the year, and about 10,000 reports were made of offenses under the law on domestic violence protection.

The ombudsman said the increase in domestic violence was worrying and that the complaints her office received were about the physical and mental abuse of children.

For more news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Domestic Violence On The Rise During Pandemic

ZAGREB, 28 March 2021 - The number of domestic violence crimes has increased by 39% during the coronavirus pandemic, which requires establishing confidential communication channels so that the victims would have confidence that something will be done about this problem, an online conference said earlier this week.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed gender inequality in all its forms and has additionally exacerbated problems such as domestic violence or inequality on the labor market, the conference on gender equality at the time of the coronavirus crisis, organized by the European Parliament Office, was told.

Gender Equality Ombudsman Višnja Ljubičić said domestic violence had increased across the EU, including Croatia, during the coronavirus pandemic. Citing official data, she said that the number of these crimes had risen by as much as 39% compared with 2019.

"The epidemiological measures, although necessary, have exacerbated social problems, which will have far-reaching consequences for the equality of women and men," Ljubičić said.

The Dean of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Franka Perković Gamulin, spoke of serious allegations of sexual harassment at the Academy, saying that "concrete, clear and confidential communication channels" needed to be established so that the victims would have confidence that something would be done and that they would not be stigmatized. 

Perković Gamulin said that three female students had reported sexual assaults against them. Many former female students had also come forward saying they had been victims of sexual harassment. She said that one teacher had been suspended, and an employment contract had not been renewed for an external lecturer.

Psychiatrist Maja Šeparović Lisak stressed the need for systematic advocacy of zero tolerance to violence.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Home Mustn't Become Place of Fear Again, Says CoE Secretary General

ZAGREB, November 25, 2020 - Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said on Tuesday, on the occasion of UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, that "we cannot allow the home to become a place of fear again" in current lockdowns due to COVID-19.

The first COVID-19 lockdowns this past spring led to many CoE member states to report record increases in domestic abuse, she said in a statement, adding that a recent UN Women study revealed increased sexual harassment, stalking, sexting and other forms of online violence.

"One of our most significant international treaties, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) calls for specific measures against such violence, such as 24-hour hotlines and counselling services, access to shelters for victims, restraining and protection orders and swift police interventions," said Pejcinovic Buric.

"As we mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in the midst of an enduring pandemic, lockdowns have proven to be a unique challenge for all of the above. We need to ensure that renewed restrictions on movement do not cause more harm to women and children. But steps can be taken to ensure that the home does not become a place of fear again," she added.

"Effective measures to prevent violence against women must be a key part of renewed lockdowns. Continued and safe access to support services such as shelters must be ensured as essential," she said.

Creative solutions that worked in some countries earlier this year, from free travel for victims to support services, or information provided to victims of domestic violence by local pharmacies, should be encouraged and adapted, Pejcinovic Buric said.

"If not already carried out, police officers and health professionals should be given guidelines to both identify and help victims of domestic abuse, for example by pro-actively reaching out to women who have sought help before."

"Even before the pandemic struck, women and girls with disabilities, of migrant origin, without a permanent home or from ethnic, religious or language minorities, often had difficulties accessing information on available support and protection," she said.

She called on those states that have not yet done so to ratify the Istanbul Convention, and recalled that the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women (GREVIO) monitors "that states party to the Convention follow its guidelines."

Croatia ratified the Convention in 2018.

"Restrictions of movement, financial constraints and uncertainty cannot be allowed to embolden perpetrators - whether at home or online. For all such forms of violence, we must maintain zero tolerance," said Pejcinovic Buric.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

NGOs, Police Focus on Problem of Domestic Violence

ZAGREB, September 20, 2020 - Associations which protect victims of domestic violence have been registering more and more requests for help on a daily basis, notably since the lockdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic, when many victims were forced to spend all of their time with their abusers.

Even though official statistics show a mild decline in the number of cases of domestic violence, police are not ignoring the problem.

They point to the fact that a growing number of such cases are now reported as felonies and not as misdemeanors and call on all who have witnessed domestic violence to report it without delay, including anonymously.

Anita Matijevic of the Police Directorate has said in an interview with Hina that the number of misdemeanors and felonies connected with domestic violence dropped by 2.7% in the first eight months of 2020 from the same period of 2019.

She noted that the number of domestic violence misdemeanors had decreased by 11% or 1,133 fewer cases.

"At the same time, there has been a 42% increase in domestic violence cases treated as felony," she said, noting that this year police have acted in 9,220 cases related to domestic violence and that those cases had the characteristics of either a misdemeanor or a felony.

 

Perpetrators increasingly prosecuted for committing felony

Matijevic noted that in the same period of 2019 there were 9,483 cases of domestic violence, 3% or 260 cases more than this year.

This year has seen an increase in the number of cases of violence treated as a felony because police have been trying to make sure all offences that can be prosecuted as a felony are prosecuted as such.

 

Associations flooded with calls for help

Livija Plancic, head of the Bijeli Krug nongovernmental organisation, which helps victims of violence, warns that the problem of growing domestic violence has been aggravated by the coronavirus crisis as victims were forced to spend entire days with their abusers.

Apart from a mentality in which relations, mostly between men and women, are perceived in a strange way, domestic violence is also triggered by alcohol and drugs as well as by an increasingly difficult financial situation, Plancic said, adding that police were the first to come into contact with the victims and that they should be the ones to provide protection the fastest.

 

Tools for victim protection not used sufficiently

She believes, however, that police do not use sufficiently instruments of victim protection, from a restraining order to removal from the common household, and calls for maintaining professional education to increase the level of competence of those who deal with victims and witnesses, from judges, prosecutors, attorneys, social workers and representatives of nongovernmental organisations to police officers.

On September 22 Croatia marks the national day of the fight against violence against women, commemorating a brutal murder which happened in 1999 when a man killed his wife, a judge and an attorney and severely wounded a court reporter, all women, during divorce proceedings.

 

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