BH & EU

OSCE launches new Online Resource to combat violence against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina

 

The OSCE Secretariat today launched a new online resource containing help and information pages to support efforts to prevent and combat violence against women. Available in six languages, www.stopvawnow.org is designed as a practical tool for officials, law enforcement agencies, NGOs and the wider public in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia as well as Moldova and Ukraine.

The webpage is arranged simply so that users can find the information they need quickly, with information, guidance and key contact telephone numbers relevant to each country.

Under the “I need help” section, women who experience violence can find information about who they can contact if they require support, such as the telephone numbers of local NGOs and helplines.

Under the “I want to help” section, the OSCE has compiled a number of steps that concerned citizens can take to diffuse critical situations, support women and raise awareness.

The “I want information” section provides further details on the results and recommendations of the OSCE-led Survey on the Well-being and Safety of Women, which were published earlier this year. It found that 70% of women across South-Eastern and Eastern Europe have experienced some form of violence: sexual, physical, psychological, stalking or sexual harassment, but reporting of incidents remains low. Only 15% of women reported the most serious incident of severe current partner violence to the police.

“This online resource builds on the outcomes of the OSCE-led Survey on the Well-being and Safety of Women, which found that what women who have experienced a violent incident want the most is moral support and someone to talk to,” said Serani Siegel, the Survey’s project manager. “The Survey also underlined the importance of speaking up and providing women with the resources to report incidents of violence. The webpage will help in this regard and allow women to find a number of alternatives for reporting the violence and getting support.”

The webpage is also designed to serve as a resource for government officials, law enforcement agencies, NGOs, academia and the media to gain a better understanding of the scale of the problem and to guide the implementation of policies and practices. By providing information on these issues, the webpage aims to combat victim-blaming attitudes that contribute to the silencing of survivors.

The launch of the webpage coincides with the end of the OSCE’s “End the Silence” campaign on 10 December, which was held during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence international campaign. The “End the Silence” campaign focused on changing mindsets and attitudes among the public that contribute to gender inequality and therefore to violence against women.

As part of this campaign, posters were printed and distributed to police stations in the survey locations that underlined the important role that police officers and other employees of police stations can play in supporting survivors of violence.

Social media users and influencers throughout the whole region supported the campaign and shared information on violence against women and on the OSCE-led Survey. The campaign engaged a large number of people in the region through the OSCE social media channels, with over 39,000 people reached on Facebook as well as over 57,000 impressions on Twitter and 16,000 on Instagram. The dedicated Instagram filter, specifically developed for the campaign, resulted in over 83,000 impressions over the course of the 16 days. The campaign was also widely supported by media and influencers, with a combined reach of over 20 million people.

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