25 November 2013

From November 25 through December 10, Belarus will participate in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence that are intended to attract attention to the problem of violence against women. In 2013, government entities, international organizations and NGOs will conduct public campaigns with a special emphasis on drawing attention to the problem of domestic violence.

In 2013, the Network of Non-profit Organizations (NPOs) to Counteract Domestic Violence has prepared over 60 events to be conducted during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. As part of the campaign, the network members will hold awareness raising and prevention workshops, trainings, actions, photo exhibitions, and media briefings in different regions of Belarus. The main purpose of these activities is to draw attention to the problem of domestic violence, as well as to disseminate information about the organizations where one can seek help.

“The problem of domestic violence is very topical for the Republic of Belarus, as evidenced by the appalling statistics on family and domestic crimes, as well as the data on the victims’ complaints, says Olga Yanchuk, coordinator of the NPOs Network to Counteract Domestic Violence,  “Over the 15 months of operation of the NPOs Network to End Domestic Violence, its specialists (psychologists, lawyers and social workers) provided direct assistance to 232 victims and gave 694 consultations by telephone.  The national hotline for victims of domestic violence (8801100 8801) received more than 3,400 calls, and 85 people received expert advice via the feedback form on the website www.ostanovinasilie.org.  Daily work with victims shows that to solve the problem of domestic violence it is necessary to conduct a broad range of activities aimed at prevention, assistance, and, importantly, organization of work with offenders.

Experience has shown that the problem of family abuse can be solved only through multi-agency cooperation.

“Multi-agency cooperation allows for providing more timely, effective and complete assistance to victims of domestic violence, says Olga Lukashkova, manager of projects on domestic violence prevention and ensuring gender equality implemented by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in the Republic of Belarus.  “In practice, this means that each region has a team of professionals composed of representatives of law enforcement agencies, social protection, healthcare and education organizations and non-governmental associations, and each team member knows exactly how to respond in case of becoming aware of a case of domestic violence, what kind of first aid to provide, and where and in what situations to signpost the victims. This is international best practice that we are actively introducing in Belarus. Such multi-agency teams already operate in the pilot regions of Brest, Kobrin and Kamenetz.

An important mechanism in the integrated solution of the problem of domestic violence consists in creating regulatory instruments to protect victims and redirect offenders toward selecting nonviolent means to resolve conflicts.

“Adoption of a special law “On Prevention, Suppression of and Protection Against Domestic Violence in Belarus is a prerequisite for exercising the right to a life free of violence. The law will recognize that the problem exists and will visibly confirm that the state is concerned about what happens to its citizens and that domestic violence is a crime against the state, says Ludmila Petina, co-chair of the NGO “Women's Independent Democratic Movement. “The law will strengthen and secure all the measures for protection against domestic violence, which will be primarily focused on the victims’ needs, their safety and rehabilitation. The law will give a legal definition of domestic violence and provide legal evaluation of the obsolete stereotypes, promote intolerance towards domestic violence and improve the quality of life of Belarusian families.

Background:

The network of non-profit organizations engaged in countering domestic violence has been established under the international technical assistance project “Developing National Capacity to Counteract Domestic Violence in Belarus. Its main objective is to empower non-profit organizations of the Republic of Belarus in the prevention and countering of domestic violence at the national and regional levels through promotion of partnerships and consolidation of efforts to address the problem of domestic violence. As of November 2013, the network includes 19 organizations, namely:

1. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Minsk) – network coordinator
2. International NGO “Gender Perspectives (Minsk)
3. NGO “Radislava (Minsk)
4. Social NGO “Provincia (Borisov)
5. Belarusian Orthodox Church/Sisterhood Union (Minsk)
6. Charitable NGO “Rodnik Vozrozhdenia (Brest)
7. Project Kesher
8. Public Association “Mogilev Women’s Centre for Support and Self-education (Mogilev)
9. NGO “Women's Independent Democratic Movement (Minsk)
10. NGO “Business Women’s Club (Brest)
11. NGO “Business Women’s Club “South West (Pinsk)
12. NGO “Kobrin Business Women’s Club “Bona
13. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Mozyr)
14. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Smorgon)
15. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Bobruisk)
16. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Gomel)
17. NGO “Belarusian Young Women Christian Association (Novopolotsk)
18. NGO “Women’s Alliance (Molodechno)
19. NGO “Legal Initiative