BFW with campaign for the 16 days of activism for combating violence against women

  •  November 30, 2020

On November 25 – The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Bulgarian Fund for Women launched a campaign aimed at shedding light on the problem and mobilizing the institutions to take more decisive and effective measures to protect victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

On the same date was the premiere of the first album of its kind “The Eternal Hits of Bulgaria”, issued by the Bulgarian Fund for Women, in which 11 music hits sound as millions of Bulgarian women hear them, but have never been played on the radio till now. The premiere of the album was on the evening of November 25, with a special event on the Facebook page of BFW, which was watched by 4,700 people. You can hear the entire album, available online (Bulgarian audio only). The album was also released as a limited series of vinyl records, which were delivered to all of the institutions involved in the policies for combating the violence against women. What is more, the vinyl record could be heard in the best record shops: Dukyan Meloman on “6-ti September” Str., Catch-A-Fire on “Angel Kanchev” Str. and in The Records Corner on “Neofit Rilski” Str.

The album “The Eternal Hits of Bulgaria” is a compilation of monologues by oppressors to women victims. Each of them has a title that coincides with that of a beloved Bulgarian pop hit from the recent and distant past and that are often associated with love thrills. However, these are not cover versions, but plain, unpolished expressions of humiliation and mockery of women, which show how love sometimes degenerates into aggression. The texts describe literally cases of different types of violence. Unfortunately, it is highly likely, that everyone could recognize their relatives and acquaintances in the recordings.

The grim inspiration behind the project is the fact that every two weeks a woman is killed in Bulgaria, while listening to one of these or to a similar “song”. Every year over 1 000 000 Bulgarian daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, granddaughters, cousins, nieces, colleagues and girlfriends are subject to violence. Every year, dozens of Bulgarian women are killed by their current or former husbands or partners and by the pandemic called violence against women.

The project “The Eternal Hits of Bulgaria” aims to shed light on the different cases and nuances of violence that is not only physical, but has a much wider range of toxic manifestations. Ten of them find a place in the compilation – sexual assault, beating, persecution (stalking), stereotyping, trafficking of women, sexist insults and those on a racial-ethnic basis and in relation to appearance. Five Bulgarian actors recorded two songs, but the real favorite was the eleventh piece. The Turbo Hit Mega mix is a real hit from the “top of the charts” – a mix of quotes from the speeches of those who govern Bulgaria and on whose decisions our lives depend: representatives of the government, the parliament, law enforcement and jurisdiction institutions.

The campaign calls on everyone to change the shabby record that has been spinning non-stop for years. To be the change, to talk about violence, to recognize it, to expose it and to prevent it when and wherever they can. Anyone who wants to join the campaign, can do it on social media and with real action – in life.

Earlier in the day, November 25, BFW took part in a flash mob organized by a horizontal collective Feminist Mobilizations. It was held in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. Convinced that we need to be responsible and in solidarity with all the nurses, teachers and other workers in the predominantly “female” professions, who have been carrying the corona crisis on their backs for almost a year, we decided not to gather on a mass scale, since a live protest would mean placing more weight on them. That is why this year, instead of a protest march, we organized a mass submission of appeals and letters to the (ir)responsible institutions!

Again on November 25, representatives of the Bulgarian Fund for Women and several other organizations working on the combating violence against women – “Association Animus” Foundation, “Emprove Foundation” and “Knowledge, Success, Change” Association, met with the Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova. The conversation took place in the building of the Presidential Administration on the initiative of the Vice President.

Additional protection is needed for women victims of violence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevention and wider public attention and awareness of the problem of violence against women are crucial, the Vice President and the representatives of the non-governmental organizations expressed as common opinion. “Institutions are shifting responsibilities to each other and we are coming to the point where there are no official statistics on victims of violence,” the Vice President stated. She added: “A comprehensive review of legislation on violence against women and domestic violence is needed, as many of the latest changes either do not work or conflict with other laws. The amendments to the Domestic Violence Act have not yet been formed and uploaded for public discussion. Increasing the punishment for perpetrators does not solve the problem, much of which is prevention and awareness”.

The Vice President is pushing for a plan to prevent violence against women in the current crisis and allocation of special funds to support victims of violence. The state budget should have a separate item focused on this problem, she added. Earlier in the day, the National Assembly discussed the Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria for 2021 in a second reading. A proposal was received from the oppositional Bulgarian Socialist Party for the allocation of BGN 3 million to help the Crisis Centers, which are only 13 in the country, but their proposal was rejected by the majority in the Parliament.

“In half of the administrative districts, there are no crisis centers for women victims of violence. Following the example of other European countries, warning and protection systems should be set up, so that women can signal when they need urgent help”, it was commented during the meeting with Iliana Yotova. BFW presented to the Vice President the album “The Eternal Hits of Bulgaria” and hand over a copy of the vinyl record to her.  

The campaign of the Bulgarian Fund for Women will continue until mid-December, marking the 16 days of activism for combating the violence against women.

As part of the initiative, BFW also organized a special webinar “Domestic violence and violence against women: possible solutions”. Special guests of the event was the Assoc. Prof. Dr. Diana Kovacheva – the Ombudsperson of the Republic of Bulgaria, Dr. Rob Dixon – Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Bulgaria, Katya Krastanova, psychotherapist from the “Animus Association” and Vanya Dzhumerska – National Coordinator for Prevention of Domestic Violence, “Standing together”, United Kingdom. The official partner of the event was the British Embassy in Sofia.

In the discussion was outlined the possible solutions in Bulgaria and UK through good practices with a focus on the model “Coordinated Community Response”, exercised in the UK. There was discussion on the scale of the problem that millions of women and children around the world and in Bulgaria face every day. Other topic was on the specific improvements in Bulgarian legislation that could be adopted in order to be more effective in combating this “pandemic”. All the participants were able to ask questions and give their comments.

BFW thanks sincerely to all partners, friends and volunteers who helped for the implementation of the project “The Eternal Hits of Bulgaria”: Dukyan Meloman, Kaloyan Dimitrov (music, studio engineer), Iva Papazova (casting), actors Galin Naydenov, Stoyan Petlanov, Nikola Kutsev, Vasil Draganov, Nikola Parashkevov; Alexander Evgeniev, Maria Donchevska (artistic design), Vera Gotseva – Lomovera (photography), IDEA Comm (outdoor media/ advertising), the platform BG- Mamma and special thanks to the creative and communications agency Ogilvy Sofia.

The campaign is also part of the initiative “It depends on us”, realized by the civic association Equal.bg (Ravni.bg).

You can get involved by following the various activities on the Facebook and Instagram pages of the BFW. Be the voice of Bulgarian women and do not be silent!

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