The campaign “You’re NOT Alone! Together against Violence” has 5 demands from the state in order to deal with violence against women
1 in 3 women in Bulgaria is a victim of gender-based violence. 30% of the women in Bulgaria and Europe have been physically or sexually abused at least once after the age of 15. In Bulgaria, barely 14% of the victims of abuse report the incident to the police and don’t believe they would receive any kind of support. Every one of us pays a price for violence, and it’s not only with the lost and ruined lives. A study done in 2017, by the European Institute for Gender Equality, shows that violence against women annually costs the EU 256 billion euro. The economy also loses 12% due to the absence of the victim from work, because of her injuries. On a global scale, domestic abuse costs the world 8 trillion dollars per year.
“And even though we pay with our lives and money for the domestic violence, it still hasn’t been incriminated. Or at least it’s not considered a crime, until someone dies. This fact hinders even the police from doing their job right. And last night yet another woman was attacked with acid.” Says Nadejda Dermendjieva, CEO of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, at the press conference that kick started the campaign “You’re NOT alone – Together against violence”. She tells about the habit of responsible representatives of the police to fill in excel tables with domestic violence incidents, because of the lack of a unified system for similar cases within the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Another absurdity are the requirements of the Ministry of Justice, which has a duty to fund projects dealing with preventing and combating domestic violence according to the Law of protection against domestic violence, and with which NGOs working on these problems face difficulties every year. “This year the ministry has granted almost all of the money, but with a deadline – 6 months to complete the whole project, namely from May to October. So, it turns out that the state fights domestic violence 6 months of the year,” she declares. “The rest is left to us and we have been turned into volunteers.”
For the first time the Bulgarian civil society has united against domestic violence and demands that the government commit to specific solutions. Representatives of different independent media of non-governmental organizations and public figures presented the “You’re NOT alone – Together against violence” campaign at a special press conference. The campaign was initiated by the site “Momichetata Ot Grada” and is backed by a few independent media, some of which are Ploshtad Slaveykov, Mama Ninja, The Interview, Mayko Mila as well as 20 more NGOs.
“As a society, we don’t realize that domestic violence affects practically all of us. Violence at home transfers to the kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, streets, stadiums and doctors’ offices. However, because the topic is uncomfortable to talk about, we pretend it doesn’t exist… There are 8 killed women since the beginning of the year. Some of them could still be alive if the institutions had done their jobs. At this rate we can expect the number of death to rise to 50 by the end of the year,” comments Levena Lazarova, co-creator of “Momichetata Ot Grada”.
The campaign has 5 requests from the institutions, which would guarantee the successful fight and prevention of domestic violence:
- Incriminating domestic violence – all forms of violence against women to be treated as a crime – domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking, systematic psychological abuse, as well as all other serious forms of violence to be explicitly added to the Penalty Code.
- Creating a unified database in the Ministry of Interior Affairs for the victims and perpetrators, which should be available to everyone working on domestic violence cases – judges, prosecutors, policemen, psychologists, social workers. It can be financed as a project.
- Financing and distributing the already existing and successfully tested special Training programs for psychologists, policemen, judges and social workers in ways to deal with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence – there are possibilities for financing through different programs to the ministries, including EU funding and it won’t be to the expense of the budget.
- Creating 28 crisis centres in every region. This will cost the state about 2 million lv. per year; 28 consultation centres working with victims and perpetrators in every region – 2 million lv. per year; 6 centres for rehabilitation of raped women – in the 6 planned regions – 500 000 lv. per year. With 5 million lv. we could start an effective fight against violence in Bulgaria. With the money needed for one referendum, we could continue this fight for 4 years!
- A program dedicated to prevention of violence, which would be done through educating the young population and general public on prevention of violence and non-violent communication – there already exist tested methodologies that can be applied to the entire country. Creating a National Council for combating violence to the Council of Ministers, along with systematic and awareness raising campaigns for prevention of violence against women and domestic violence.