“It is necessary to harmonize the relevant legislation and policies at the entity level and in Brcko District with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)” – is the main conclusion from the roundtable organized in the first week of December by the Safe network.
Participants concluded that alignment can be achieved by establishing minimum standards for access to specialist support services: shelters, SOS helplines and free legal aid for all victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Every second woman in BiH has been subjected to some form of violence from the age of 15. “Women and girls in BiH do not have an equal access to protection services depending on their geographical location or socio-economic status. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for service providers and civil society organizations to act together towards creating equally accessible service and rights for all victims of violence,” noted Amna Muharemovic, Program Specialist at UN Women BiH.
The roundtable was organized as a part of the project “Improved access to services for all women and girls survivors of domestic violence in BiH”, financed by European Union with support by UN Women, and framed around the regional program “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.” The project is implemented by the Foundation of Local Democracy in partnership with “Buducnost” Modrica, on behalf of the Safe network.
As a part of the project “Policy document of the Safe network on providing sustainable services to victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence in line with the Istanbul Convention” has been presented. The document is developed by members of the Safe network and it is “a basis for advocacy of civil society organizations and further work on applying the standards enshrined in the Istanbul Convention,” said Amra Hadzic, coordinator of the project.
One of the conclusions of the roundtable discussion is that the Safe network’s next steps are to organize a series of consultations with key stakeholders who can contribute to the adoption of new and better policies which will inevitably ensure compliance with provisions of the Istanbul Convention when it comes to protection and support to women victims of domestic violence.