Today, the same as seven years ago, when we as an institution supported the observance of May 18 as the National Day of Remembrance for all women killed in domestic and partner violence, we point out that murdered women are not numbers and statistics and that it is necessary that we stand together and act against this most extreme form of gender-based violence, says Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

The Republic of Serbia was among the first to ratify the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which was followed by extensive normative changes, thanks to which domestic violence is no longer a private matter but a social problem. Protection measures against domestic and partner violence, stricter penalties, and a ban on approaching and communicating with the victim were introduced, and the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence was adopted. Despite this, in less than five months, almost not a week has passed without a woman losing her life at the hands of her partner, usually, her ex, and the number of 17 murdered women reminds society that solving this problem should be raised to the highest level.

To improve the systemic response to violence and better prevention, the Commissioner, among other activities, following their competencies, submitted in the previous period numerous initiatives to amend regulations, of which we single out initiatives to amend the Criminal Code, the Law on the Execution of Criminal Sanctions, of the Law on Public Peace and Order, etc. We also supported the initiative sent to the National Assembly to establish a National Control Mechanism for monitoring cases of femicide. This mechanism would help faster and better coordination, reaction, and support, it would provide insight into all important elements for case analysis, which includes looking at causes and omissions, whether and who failed in the protection system, the Commissioner emphasizes.

Janković emphasizes that laws and measures are not enough by themselves and points out that the root of the problem lies in historically unequal power relations between men and women and in society’s widespread tolerance of violence. It is important that, through joint work and development, we have a social consensus in the fight against and condemnation of all violence and that we constantly work to raise awareness of the importance of respecting everyone’s dignity and fostering true values, concludes the Commissioner.

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