Family support is the most encouraging for women to report violence

Family support is the most encouraging for women to report violence

Presented research results on the causes of insufficient reporting of domestic violence –

Belgrade, March 16, 2023 – Fear of abusers, shame due to the violence experienced, fear of condemnation from those close to them, unfavorable economic situation, and mistrust in institutions are the main reasons women do not report domestic violence. Support from family and friends, institutions, and financial support would encourage women to report violence. That’s what shown by the research “Why do women not report domestic violence?” presented today by the institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

“The research results make it clear where the visible and invisible obstacles are. Women in Serbia predominantly do not justify domestic violence, but they believe that the problem of violence should first be solved within the family. That is why we, as a society, must create a climate in which being a victim of violence does not carry with it a stigma, condemnation, and subsequent victimization but implies the support of everyone, from those closest to society as a whole”, said Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

“We must not allow women who survived violence to remain without adequate economic and psychosocial support, which is why all institutions from the system of protection against violence must have a greater degree of cooperation and make additional efforts, so that the citizens of Serbia gain greater trust in them”, Janković added.

“For the effective prevention of gender-based and domestic violence, timely recognition, detection, and reporting of violence are crucial. That is why, from the very beginning of the implementation of the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence, the Ministry of Justice placed special emphasis on education and specialized training, in which more than a thousand participants – representatives of judicial functions, but also representatives of other institutions responsible for the prevention of violence – participated, said the minister of Justice, Maja Popović.

“Over 70% of women who lost their lives in partner and family violence never reported it to the institutions. The results of this research show us that the responsibility for reporting violence cannot lie only with women”, said Jakup Berisha, UNDP’s permanent representative in Serbia, and added: “Institutions should react to the violence taking into account the specific circumstances of individual cases, and families and local communities should better recognize and understand violence, to become the first line of support for survivors. At the same time, the media should report responsibly to avoid further traumatization of the survivors and educate the public that domestic violence is a social and not a personal problem”, said Berisha.

The survey “Why do women not report domestic violence?” was conducted by the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSid), from November 10 to December 5, 2022, on a representative sample of 1,004 women over the age of 18, including women who were exposed to multiple discrimination.

Of the total number of respondents, 35% experienced some form of violence. 47% of them did not turn to any institution for support after the experience of violence, and 28% turned to someone from their personal environment.

When asked to state justified reasons for reporting violence, the most significant percentage of women opted for severe physical injuries (73%), violence against children (64%), as well as threats of violence directed at them or family members (62%). Only 3% stated that it is not justified for a woman to report violence.

Regarding protection from domestic violence, women have the most trust in safe houses, healthcare, and the police, and the least in municipal free legal aid. The respondents also stated that if they experienced violence, they would first turn to family members (38%), the police (28%), and friends (9%).

The entire research can be downloaded from the following link:

This research was carried out as part of the project “Integrated response to violence against women and girls in Serbia III,” which, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, is jointly implemented by United Nations agencies: UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP, with the support of the Government of Sweden.


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