Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, drew attention to the increased risk of violence against women in emergencies such as the one with the coronavirus epidemic and urged the competent institutions to develop and advance mechanisms which would provide all sorts of assistance to women in those situations with the aim of empowering them, making them more independent and reporting violence.
On the occasion of 18 May, the National Day of Remembrance for Women Victims of Violence, Mr. Pašalić states that women with disabilities, women living in rural areas and Roma women, who were in vulnerable position before the pandemic, encounter most challenges in emergencies and emphasizes that the consequences of the pandemic - fear, uncertainty, poverty and economic insecurity increase the risk of amplifying domestic violence, which may result in tragic outcomes.
This was why, during the state of emergency, Mr. Pašalić initiated an amendment to the Regulation on the measures during the state of emergency of the Government of Serbia, so that victims of domestic violence would not be subject to measures prohibiting movement. On that occasion, he pointed out that it was necessary for the competent authorities to fully implement the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence, and that victims needed access to Safe Houses or other types of alternative housing, as well as to other measures of assistance and support during the state of emergency.
A big step towards improving the protection of women from domestic violence would be the adoption of the National Strategy for Preventing and Combating Violence against Women in Family and Intimate Partner Relationships, and the accompanying Action Plan, Mr. Pašalić claims.
Mr. Pašalić further explains that it is necessary to harmonize the Criminal Code with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, and it is particularly necessary to consistently, comprehensively and timely implement the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence and other regulations.
Raising awareness of the absolute impermissibility of and culpability for gender-based violence contributes the most to suppression of violence against women, in which the media play an extremely important role. Furthermore, Mr. Pašalić accentuated that the media had to comply with professional standards and refrain from sensationalism, relativization and justifying the perpetrator in cases of murdering women and other types of gender-based violence.
In 2017, Serbian Government declared 18 May as the Day of Remembrance for Women Victims of Violence based on the proposal signed by 8000 female and male citizens, and endorsed by the Protector of Citizens. The date was chosen in memory of 16, 17 and 18 May 2015, when as many as seven women in Serbia were murdered in domestic and intimate-partner violence.