A campaign to end violence against women was launched in the National Assembly
Bulgarian Fund for Women (BFW) launched its informational campaign “#Every4th: see the true face of violence” in the National Assembly to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – 25th November. The event, taking place under the aegis of UN from 25 November to 10 December – The Human Rights Day, is part of the international campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”. The campaign was organized by BFW and the parliament member of ABV Mariana Todorova.
During the opening ceremony the vice-chairman of the National Assembly Dimitar Glavchev explained that violence against women is a challenge on both national and European scale and we have to find an effective solution to it. He added that this would be possible only if institutions, NGOs, media and the whole society cooperated with each other. Every fourth Bulgarian woman (estimated to around 1 million women) has been victim of physical or sexual violence, however, it is difficult to talk about the issue, noted Glavchev. The vice-chairman laid emphasis on the fact that violence has many forms and faces, but despite this victims should become aware of it and share their experiences, so that we can put an end to this issue as soon as possible. Glavchev called for support for the victims and highlighted how important it is to create a society where women can develop to their full potential. As an exceptional success for Bulgaria he pointed out the efforts of Maria Gabriel, member of the European Parliament, to make 2016 European year of action to combat violence against women.
The ambassador of the United Kingdom Emma Hopkins expressed her full support to the campaign’s shift of the focus from the victims to the perpetrators. According to her, it is highly important that men take part in this debate and break the silence, in order to insure efficiency in the fight against violence. Emma Hopkins noted that after the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) was signed, Great Britain has made a significant progress in dealing with this major issue and now works on its ratification.
The parliament member Mariana Todorova pointed out that when we talk about prevention of violence, we should not talk only about overcoming the shame and fear of speaking out but search for the root of the problem – is the Bulgarian society ready to openly discuss this issue and stop tolerating such behaviour. Todorova expressed her gratitude to the Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva for the opportunity to launch the campaign “Every4th: see the true face of violence” in the plenary chamber. More than one million Bulgarian women have been victims of violence and according to the European Union every third woman had experienced any form of violence. Moreover, 67% of these women have not reported the act of violence to the police, nor have they spoken out in front of a NGO, a friend or a family member. Todorova stressed that if the victims do not share their experience they empathize with it.
In addition, the executive director of BFW Nadejda Dermendjieva emphasized that the goal of the informational campaign “Every4th” is to turn the spotlight on one provocative question “If every fourth woman is a victim, isn’t every fourth man a perpetrator?”. She clarified that this is not an accusation but a massage for the need of serious work on prevention and approach to the problem. Our task should not be saving all victims but removing the threat in the face of the perpetrators, so that there are no victims at all, added Dermendjieva. In order to be made progress in the fight against gender-based violence BFW is convinced that Bulgaria has to ratify the Istanbul Convention as a fundamental document and take its recommendations into consideration.
At the event was the premiere of the video and the website of the campaign “Every4th: see the true face of violence” – www.vsekichetvarti.org. The web page calls for signing a petition for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and offers adequate measures against violence.
About the campaign:
#Every4th: see the true face of violence aims to raise the question “Do we know which is the true face of violence?”and to initiate a dialogue about the real problems and the reach of violence against women and means to handle it. The campaign “Every4th” focuses on the way we think and talk about violence against women without realizing the damages we may cause when we blame the victims for what they have gone through. A cause for the harassment of over 30% of the victims to continue about ten years is the shame and guilt that society implants (Statistic of the United Nations Secretariat, 2008). In Bulgaria, only under 1% of the constant raise in domestic violence victims look for help. It is high time we realized that in a world without perpetrators there will be no victims. Therefore, the campaign “Every4th” aims to encourage oppressors to look for professional help, in order to change, and victims to look for protection without feeling shame or guilt. Last but not least, the campaign supports the ratification from Bulgaria of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.