Corner Press release

25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November 2016

Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Considering the special need for protection of women from this kind of violence, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated 25 November as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women by resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999.

Violence against women continuously poses a serious systemic problem, which is most frequently manifested and comes as a result of discriminatory treatment by men against women. The state still fails to provide an effective system of protection of victims and it is a fact that 70% of women in the Republic of Macedonia have been victims of some form of violence in their lives. The reluctance of the state to pay special attention to improving the situation regarding violence against women and the dysfunction of the system of protection is best reflected in unofficial data of non-government organizations which shows that 15 femicides[1] have been registered in less than two years – from 01.01.2015 until today. In comparison, within the period of almost 14 years - from 15.08.2001 to 01.01.2015 ‒ 25 femicides have been registered. In addition to domestic violence, there is no official data on the number of various forms of gender-based violence because the state does not keep such statistics.

Despite the amendments to the legislative regulations, the Republic of Macedonia shows no visible progress or improvement in the prevention and protection of women who are victims of violence, nor there are appropriate prosecution and processing of perpetrators of violence.

One of the biggest and most critical problems is the system of protection of women as victims of violence. Starting with the reporting of violence to the police, to centers for social work and health facilities and going through the labyrinths of the system, victims become victims for the second time. On the one hand, police officers initially called to respond are often not sensitized nor trained to deal with women as victims of violence. On the other hand, the Centers for social work with their limited capacity and resources are unable to respond quickly and effectively to victim reports, especially outside of working hours.

A serious problem is the care of victims in shelters, i.e. shelters for temporary care for victims of violence. Existing capacities of domestic violence shelters for the care of women are not high enough to accommodate all the victims who need it, and in most cities across the country, such shelters do not even exist. Additionally, there are no shelters in the country for the care of women as victims of sexual violence.

We’d like to point out that Macedonia is a signatory state to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) which establishes legally binding standards for preventing violence against women, including domestic violence, in order to protect victims and to punish offenders. If the state is willing to protect women victims from gender-based violence, it is necessary to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible and to adjust the national legislation and the system of protection in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.

[1] The term “femicide” denotes the intentional killing of a woman because she is a woman, but a broader definition explains the term as murder of women and girls because of gender, torture or misogynistic killing of a woman in the name of honor, murder of women in the context of armed conflict, feticide, and female genital mutilation with death.

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