Monday, 7 March 2022

Data on Gender-Based Violence Worrying, Ombudswoman Says

7 March 2022 - Gender equality ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said on Monday the data on gender-based violence was worrying and that victim protection measures were seldom ordered, while those that were ordered were not implemented, notably in domestic violence cases.

The perpetrator too often repeatedly violates the measures, which may lead to the victim's death, she said at a round table organised by the Social Democrats parliamentary group ahead of International Women's Day.

The round table focused on the European Protection Order as a legal instrument in combating violence against women. Ljubičić said it was necessary to impose stricter punishment on perpetrators and improve prevention and the education of professionals.

Reducing the rate of gender-based violence is a government priority, said Vedrana Nikolić Šimundža, assistant justice minister for criminal law.

The European Protection Order is an attempt to equate legal rules and provide the same or similar protection in all member states, she added.

It is important to raise public awareness of the European Protection Order and that we should issue it if requested and do it urgently, she said.

Speaking via video link, Austrian MP and European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights chair Petra Bayr said international law could be a strong tool in combating violence against women.

Experience shows the violence rate is falling in countries which adopted even non-binding conventions on women's protection because there is greater public awareness and pressure on governments to act, she said.

The gold standard is the Istanbul Convention, which not only provides a clear and broad definition of different forms of violence, but also obliges signatories to criminalise certain offences, she added.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Zagreb One Billion Rising Event: Every 15 Minutes, a Woman Experiences Violence

ZAGREB, 13 Feb 2022 - Croatian women's organisations on Sunday joined for the tenth time the "One Billion Rising" global campaign to end rape and sexual violence against women, as part of which, during an event staged in downtown Zagreb, they said that in Croatia, every 15 minutes a woman experiences some form of violence.

"This year the campaign is dedicated to the fight against violence that destroys women, but also our planet", said the regional campaign coordinator, Zagreb City Assembly member Rada Borić, who pointed to the need to raise awareness of the widespread violence against women.

"One billion women worldwide are abused at this moment, and Croatia is unfortunately no exception, but one billion trees have been felled, rivers and forests have been devastated," she said.

She warned that every 15 minutes, a woman experiences violence in Croatia and that rulings in such cases are quite inappropriate which in a way, encourages the perpetrators.

Three women killed since start of year

"The message is that there is no excuse for violence - even if that someone is a good neighbour or jealous or defender or county head..." Borić said, noting that Croatia has more killed women per million inhabitants than France.

Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić, too, pointed to the discouraging national statistics.

"In the first 40 days of this year, three women have been killed, three women have been held captive and there have been several cases of attempted murder and threats with weapons, which shows that 2022 will be marked by femicide," Ljubičić said.

"In 2021, 30 people were murdered - 16 men and 14 women. In 90% of the cases men were killed by other men, while the 14 women were killed by 11 men close to them", Ljubičić added.

Sentences for perpetrators too lenient 

Ljubičić also warned that sentences for perpetrators were too lenient, noting that of 1,200 verdicts, less than 10% envisage imprisonment for gender-based violence, while in most cases, the punishment is conditional or a fine.

The Zagreb event's organisers called for working together on the prevention of violence and on raising awareness of the problem through systematic education and institutional cooperation.

This month events dedicated to raising awareness of the problem of violence against women are held also in other Croatian cities, and they will also be held on International Women's Day, 8 March, and Earth Day, 22 April.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Women’s Network Croatia Supports, Solidarity With Afghan Women

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - The Women's Network Croatia has joined in a global campaign of support and solidarity with Afghan women as part of which several members of the SOS Rijeka and PaRiter NGOs said in Rijeka on Saturday they would not give up on protecting and respecting women's human rights in Afghanistan.

We want the problems faced by women in Afghanistan to be visible and to show solidarity with them, said Lorena Zec of SOS Rijeka.

"As women in Croatia, we feel quite helpless as to what we can do for women in Afghanistan, but we can constantly raise our voice and demand of those in power in Croatia, the European Union and the United Nations not to allow women in Afghanistan to become victims of the system again," she added.

Women in Afghanistan risk their lives every day by directly opposing the Taliban regime and demanding that their human rights be respected and protected, the Women's Network Croatia said.

They ask that "Croatia does not recognise the Taliban government which took power by force and is violating human rights."

They also ask Croatia, the EU and the UN to do everything to support the women's resistance in Afghanistan.

They call on "governments not to implement nor justify the policy of militarism, religious fundamentalism, fascism, and to stop manipulating with women's rights."

They demand that Croatia, the EU and the international community ensure the reception of refugees and all who wish to leave Afghanistan as well as humanitarian aid.

The campaign is being held in 85 countries, organised by the One Billion Rising campaign against violence against women and girls and the Women's Global Solidarity Network. The main message is "Not one of us is free until the women of Afghanistan are free."

As part of the campaign, the Women's Network Croatia said they would go to the main squares in Vukovar, Osijek, Virovitica, Lipik, Križevci, Zagreb, Korenica, Rijeka, Poreč and Zadar at noon today, carrying banners in support of Afghan women.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Ombudswoman: Solution to Violence Against Women Lies in Continuous Education

ZAGREB, 19 Sept, 2021 - The key to solving the problem of violence against women lies primarily in the continuous education of those applying laws and regulations, gender equality ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić has said on the occasion of the National Day of Combating Violence Against Women, observed on 22 September.

She welcomed the latest amendments to the criminal code and the law on protection against domestic violence, which eliminated some key shortcomings in the effective suppression of gender-based violence, but said the key was to keep educating those applying laws and regulations, rather than in frequently changing legislation.

Serious acts of gender-based violence are often tried as misdemeanours and serious cases of sexual, domestic and gender-based violence are recognised too late, when we witness femicide, Ljubičić said a statement.

Since 2015, when it was reinstated into the criminal code, domestic violence has been continuously and significantly increasing while misdemeanour complaints have been continuously decreasing since 2009, she said.

The number of misdemeanour domestic violence complaints dropped from over 18,000 in 2009 to a little over 9,000 in 2020, while the number of criminal complaints surged from 400 to over 4,000.

The conclusion is that, in the long term, our system of combating violence against women and domestic violence deters victims from reporting lighter forms of violence until the situation escalates and enters the sphere of criminal law, when violence can no longer be suffered or hidden as the outcome is often tragic, Ljubičić said.

Such a misdemeanour system is not preventative and does not provide an effective and prompt response to violence, she added.

There is a lack of effective and systematic prevention outside the legal system as well as of investment in resocialisation programmes for perpetrators, she said, adding that prevention boiled down to fining or giving them suspended sentences, instead of the harshest ones.

Ljubičić said such a system of combating gender-based and domestic violence showed its weaknesses especially in crises, such as the ongoing pandemic, adding that the number of crimes of domestic violence jumped 40% from 2019.

According to Interior Ministry figures for this year through 31 August, there were 5,522 registered perpetrators of misdemeanour domestic violence, with men making up 77%, as well s 6,333 victims, with women making up 63.8%. There were also 1,153 registered victims of domestic violence crimes, of whom 86% were women.

Ljubičić said the figures were potentially mildly up from 2020, but that the rise in rapes in the first seven months of 2021 was worrisome.

Everything points to the need to effect the necessary changes in the whole system, notably in the prevention and suppression of violence against women, she added.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Amnesty International: Croatia Violent Towards Migrants, But Improves in Fighting Gender-Based Violence

ZAGREB, 7 April , 2021 - Amnesty International says in its report on human rights in 2020 that Croatia continued to be violent towards illegal migrants and that access to abortion was constrained, while commending improvements regarding gender-based violence and a ruling allowing same-sex couples to foster children.

"Aid organizations documented over 15,000 cases of pushbacks and collective expulsions, frequently accompanied by violence and abuse," AI says, singling out the case of 15 migrants allegedly beaten by police while being tied to a tree.

The Croatian Interior Ministry regularly denies allegations of migrant abuse.

Gender-based violence

"In January, legal amendments harmonizing the definition of rape in criminal legislation with international standards and increasing penalties for crimes of gender-based violence entered into force," AI says, adding that "the number of reported rape cases more than doubled" as the changes "significantly expanded the scope of the offence. Proceedings continued to be lengthy, lasting between three and five years."

"Due to the reclassification of domestic violence offences, the number of criminal prosecutions for such offences rose sharply. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, domestic violence continued to be treated as a minor offence attracting minor penalties. Police and courts remained reluctant to enforce protective measures," AI says.

Sexual and reproductive rights

"Women continued to face significant barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and information," AI says.

"The widespread refusal of individual doctors and some clinics to perform abortions on grounds of conscience, as well as prohibitively high costs of services and poor regional coverage of authorized providers, presented an insurmountable obstacle to women of lower social economic status."

A new law on abortion was not adopted, AI says, although the "deadline to replace an outdated law set by the 2017 Constitutional Court ruling expired in February 2019."

Roma discrimination

"Roma continued to face discrimination in all walks of life, including education, health, housing and employment," AI says, adding that due to lack of electricity and the internet, "many Roma children were unable to access any remote learning during school closures, thereby further deepening educational gaps between Roma and non-Roma pupils."

Freedom of expression

"Journalists investigating corruption and organized crime continued to face threats and intimidation," AI says, adding that according to the Croatian Journalists’ Association, over 900 lawsuits were filed against journalists in 2020 for “violation of honour and reputation”.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković, Women's Room NGO Talk Measures Against Violence

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday met with a delegation of the Women's Room NGO to discuss measures to curb violence against women and they agreed on the preparation of a national strategy to combat sexual violence.

Maja Mamula and Anamarija Drožđan-Kranjčec from the Women's Room informed the Prime Minister of the activities of their organisation, which includes the Centre for Victims of Sexual Violence which provides direct help and support to victims of sexual violence.

The talks underlined the need for raising public awareness of the problem of sexual violence, strengthening prevention and implementing education about that problem at all levels.

The two sides agreed on drafting a national strategy for the prevention of sexual violence, which will involve all relevant departments and civil society organisations.

There was also talk of amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the combatting of sexual violence, which have been prepared and should soon be put to public consultation.

The main amendments concern redefining the prosecution of sexual harassment to enable its ex-officio prosecution, which is something the government has already announced.

Under the amendments, there will be no statute of limitations on child abuse.

The meeting also discussed activities implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy in order to establish shelters for victims of violence in all counties, the related media campaign and cooperation with civil society organisations.

The Women's Room delegation welcomed the fact that the need for a strategic document to combat sexual violence had been recognised as well as the announced legislative amendments.

Prime Minister Plenković thanked the delegation for their cooperation and work on raising awareness of the problem of violence, notably their activities in providing support to victims of sexual violence.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

B.a.B.e. NGO Calls on Women to Report Online Violence

ZAGREB, 4 March 2021 - The B.a.B.e. women's NGO launched its "SURF and SOUND" project on Thursday aimed at a comprehensive fight against online violence against women and at the same time called on women to report online violence.

Women who need help can contact: (+385) 1 4663 666 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"Every fifth young woman aged between 18 and 29 suffers sexual harassment online and a vast majority of them suffer sexual and physical violence by an intimate partner," B.a.B.e. warned in a press release.

The NGO underlined that women have 27 times more chance that they will be harassed online and that online violence occurs at a very young age.

A survey conducted indicates that NINE million girls in Europe suffered some form of online violence by the time they turned 15.

The "SURF and SOUND - Support, Unite, Respond, Fight to Stop Online violence" project is a comprehensive, systematic approach towards all important stakeholders in an effort to reduce the occurrence of online violence against women in society.

The project will be implemented over a period of two years in partnership with the Electronic Media Agency. The project is valued at just over HRK 1.5 million and 80% is being financed from the  EU's Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme (2014-2020), the press release said.

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.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

National Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women Marked in Zagreb

ZAGREB, September 22, 2020 - The national day for the elimination of violence against women was marked on Tuesday outside the Zagreb Municipal Court where three women, killed at the court during divorce proceedings in 1999, were commemorated, with the message that any violence is unacceptable.

President Zoran Milanovic said at the commemoration that the tragedy at the Municipal Court would forever be "a stain and a painful reminder of what  happens when rage and hate get the better of a person, especially a man."

The responsibility of men is crucial, it starts in the family and at school, Milanovic said, adding that the situation had improved since he was a child as things that were once considered normal are no longer considered normal.

"We will never be like Denmark or Sweden, nor should we, but we must take care that boys are taught, while they are still little, that problems are not solved with fists and that they should channel their rage, energy and hormones into something acceptable and definitely non-violent," said the president.

Justice and Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that the government worked continuously on amending the legal framework as well as on raising awareness of domestic violence and its prevention and of the need to send a message that it was unacceptable.

"We are all collectively and individually responsible and should not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to cases of domestic violence and violence against women and children," he stressed.

Supreme Court president Djuro Sessa, who also attended the commemoration, said that everyone witnessed violence on a daily basis, from verbal assaults to physical violence in public, and that people were starting to consider this as something normal, which was why it was up to judges not to accept it.

Zagreb Municipal Court president Jadranka Liovic Merkas warned that 20 years since the Municipal Court tragedy, despite a good legal framework, the number of women victims of violence was still high.

"By commemorating that tragedy every year we are trying to point to the problem of violence against women and send a message of zero tolerance to any form of violence," she said.

On September 22, 1999 Mato Oraskic killed Judge Ljiljana Hvalec, attorney Hajra Prohic, and his wife Gordana Oraskic and severely wounded court reporter Stanka Cvetkovic during his divorce proceedings.

Croatia observes September 22 as the national day for the elimination of violence against women in memory of the victims of that murder as well as all other women killed in violent crimes.


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