Youth Group of the Centre for Civic Education (YGCCE) is using the opportunity on the occasion of the International day for the elimination of violence against women to remind about the problem of violence against women in Montenegrin society, the need of serious dealing with this subject and to create conditions for the safe life of all women who have suffered violence, as well as the systematic assistance for all women who suffer violence to get rid of it.
International day for the elimination of violence against women was firstly established on 25 November 1981. This day was chosen to commemorate the murder of Mirabal sisters (Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa), which happened on 25 November 1960. Mirabal sisters have operated under the name ‘Las Mariposas’ (Butterflies) and because of the revolutionary activities and fight for democracy and justice were arrested several times. They were murdered by the members of the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, the United Nations, officially recognized 25 November as the International day for the elimination of violence against women.
Violence against women is the most common form of violation of human rights. UN data indicate that 40% of women worldwide are beaten up, forced to have sexual intercourse or experienced some form of abuse, and the abuser is usually a man of her surroundings. Violence against women is widespread around the world and does not know national boundaries, race, class, culture, tradition or religion. Researches in Montenegro indicate that women are dominantly present amongst the victims of violence. That violence lasts for years (the largest number of women victims of violence, more than 70%, look for the solution that situation only after years of abuse), due to which there is complete devastation of personality of women and the impossibility that she later continue with normal personal and social life.
Discrimination based on sex, misogyny and putting down importance of their efforts to improve women’s rights and achieving gender equality, are firmly grounded in patriarchal and traditionalist attitude towards women which is hard to change, despite solid legislative framework. Montenegrin decision makers are still not sufficiently sensibilised to advocate women’s rights and effective combating violence against women through their actions. As the result, there is a fact that, according to surveys, more than 70% of respondents agrees with statement that the primary role of women in society is to be a good wife and mother, and every fourth respondent (man) declares that violence against women is justified in certain situations, then that for the violence that happens there is woman’s fault because she is not able to leave the abuser, and that it is she to be blamed for the beatings she receives because it is the caused by her behavior. It is clear that this is a social climate in which violence against women is acceptable because it is in the service of a woman to be good and obedient, while decision makers involuntarily support the efforts of civil society, especially women’s organizations, to change this.
On the fact that violence against women is the most massive violation of human rights, CCE Youth Group warns primarily, those responsible in the institutions, but also the general public, that due to domestic violence, besides women, also suffer the children and elderly family members, and that institutions have an obligation to take all legally prescribed measures to protect them. Mild criminal policy in cases of domestic violence, which is our practice, sends a terrible message that this violence is legitimate and socially acceptable. Also, the fact that the criminal charges are often dismissed due to the lack of evidence, because the victim does not want to prosecute or has decided not to testify, raises concern. In addition, those who have survived violence do not receive adequate psychosocial support and legal aid in institutions of social and health care.
CCE Youth Group assess that greater efforts have to be undertaken to create conditions for the establishment of new mechanisms of support for women victims of violence, better cooperation between institutions and NGOs dealing with the issue of violence against women in terms of support of sustainability of programmes aimed at raising public awareness about the problem of women victims of violence, but also about women’s rights in general.
Miloš Knežević, Youth group coordinator