Changes to the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence can be Adopted within a Month, MPs Unanimously Agree
The bill to amend and supplement the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence (BAS of LPDV) could be adopted within a month, MPs from four political parties represented in parliament unanimously agreed during a discussion within the “Forum on Policies and Actions to Combat Violence Against Women,” organized by the Bulgarian Fund for Women (BFW) and the Bulgarian Platform of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) on December 12, 2022, in Sofia, held with the support of the Council of Europe.
The forum’s panel included Hristo Terziyski (GERB-UDF), Kalina Konstantinova (We Continue the Change), Tsvetan Enchev (MRF), Ilina Mutafchieva (Democratic Bulgaria), as well as the independent MP Yavor Bozhankov, who until recently was part of the Bulgarian Socialist Party parliamentary group. The members of parliament were adamant that the adoption of the BAS for the LPDV shouldn’t take more than two to four weeks, because the bill has already gone through several committees and public discussions.
The event was opened by The Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova, who expressed her sympathy for the topic and her full readiness to support legislative changes in the institution she represents.
“Let’s lend a hand to non-governmental organizations. Knowing that these are the people we need the most in the fight against violence. They should be supported legislatively and financially, not outlawed. […] I am standing here as a guarantee that the presidential institution supports your efforts”, she remarked.
Nadezhda Dermendzhieva, director of the BFW, also called for urgent action by all institutions: “The change from the bottom up is happening. Top-down change is overdue! The changes in the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence should have already been a fact in 2018. Five years later, and over 100 women’s lives lost that better protection for victims of violence could have saved, we are still waiting for change. It is in your hands, that we make at least a little progress in this struggle. No crisis is more urgent than the preservation of human life.”
Iliana Balabanova, chairwoman of the Bulgarian Platform of the European Women’s Lobby, and co-organizer of the event added: “On November 25, 2022, National Statistical Institute published data from a study conducted among 5,800 women between the ages of 18 and 74, revealing the particularly alarming fact, that young women in Bulgaria (between the ages of 18 and 29) are at the greatest risk of intimate partner violence. Two out of three women believe that violence in intimate relationships occurs very or quite often. We simply cannot afford to waste any more time.”
Among the participants of the panel were Prof. Dr Diana Kovacheva — Ombudsman of the Republic of Belarus, Bianka Faragau — political adviser to the General Directorate “Justice and Consumers” of the European Commission, Laura Albu — a member of the GREVIO commission of the Council of Europe, Yulia Kovacheva — dep. — Minister of Justice, Desislava Viktorova — Chief Inspector in the GD “National Police,” representatives of organizations working on the front line in the fight against domestic violence — human rights lawyer Milena Kadieva from the Gender Alternatives Foundation, Diana Videva from the Demetra Association, Diana Dimova from the Wings Mission Foundation, etc. All of them united around the need to take urgent measures to ensure prevention and more effective protection for victims of violence — a serious problem affecting our entire society.
We remind you that just since the beginning of 2022, at least 23 women in Bulgaria have been killed by men (often their relatives — husbands, partners, sons, or other family members), according to data collected from media publications. Every third woman between the ages of 18 and 29 has been abused by a current or former partner, according to the NSI study. Violence against women costs our country more than 6.8 billion euros every year, and the total cost for the European Union is 366 billion per year. The new Directive proposed by the European Commission to deal with violence against women and domestic violence is aimed precisely at addressing this problem — a topic also discussed during the event.
More than 100 people attended the “The Forum on Policies and Actions to Combat Violence Against Women” including the ambassadors of Great Britain, Brazil, and the Netherlands, representatives of the diplomatic missions of Argentina, Germany, Denmark, Spain, the USA, France and the Czech Republic, municipal representatives, civil and academia experts, media, etc.
“The Forum on Policies and Actions to Combat Violence Against Women” is within the framework of project GA.DGII.1269.2022, No. 751690, financed by the European Council, and is implemented in partnership between the Bulgarian Platform at EWL and the BFW.