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Activists of the Women Against Violence Network presented eight thousand signatures supporting the petition for proclamation of May 18th as the Day of Remembrance for Women who were Victims of Violence, yesterday, to the Deputy Prime Minister and the President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, Zorana Mihajlović. This date is selected because it’s the third in a row of days when, in 2015 in Serbia, seven women were murdered by those who claimed to love them.

At the plateau in front of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, 40 pairs of women's shoes were placed in memory of the fact that in Serbia every year at least 40 women are killed by a male family member or partner. Confused passersby asked, "How much do the shoes cost?" Activists explained what it was about. The expressions on the faces of people were transformed from overjoyed to defeated. The shoes here are not just a symbol of a woman killed by a man, they are a picture of the defeat of the state and institutions of the system, the community, us as individuals, to provide support and protection, understanding and trust in what women tell us. For that is the essence of the answer to male violence against women. Belief in the testimony of a woman and her experience of surviving violence.

That's why this action is focused on responsibility. And the one who has the highest power (the state) has the greatest responsibility. Therefore, the state was asked to: proclaim the Day of Remembrance for Women who were Victims of Violence, every next 18th of May to inform the public about femicide in Serbia and the actions it has taken to reduce the number of femicides. Instead of the media that, in most cases, sensationally reports on femicide and inflict more damage on victims and survivors, instead of activists who often with minimal resources and maximum devotion read such news articles, overcome with anger due to helplessness in stopping this capitalist trend of attracting readers through "bloody titles" (at the same time aware that if these articles didn’t exist, femicide would not be visible since the public statistics in this area don’t exist), it’s high time that the state begins to responsibly collect data from its own institutions, report to the public and take concrete preventive action.

In 1991, in Serbia, the first female SOS helpline for the support of women who survived male violence, based on feminist principles, was founded, followed by 25 other such services in 18 towns and municipalities in Serbia. At the time of the establishment of the first SOS helpline, women would call the police for help, and the police officer would answer that this is a private problem for the woman, that what she is talking about is a problem that should be solved by the family, not by the state. Thanks to SOS helplines of women's organizations that receive over 10.000 calls from about 5.000 women per year, the police cannot say now that this is not their professional problem, but every professional in the system of protection can still choose not to record this, convey poorly, minimize, and in this way conceal male violence against women, and therefore don’t answer before the law. We’re coming back to the question of responsibility and will be coming back to the institutions of the system every May 18th, bringing red shoes to their door until every woman in the world lives freely. This is a promise given to women in the year 1991. when feminists in this region named male violence against women as crimes and accountability in relation to the trust that women gave to sharing with feminists their experience of surviving violence.

pdf_buttonSAOPŠTENJE ZA MEDIJE KOORDINACIONOG TELA ZA RODNU RAVNOPRAVNOST I AUTONOMNOG ŽENSKOG CENTRA Zajednička inicijativa: 18. maj dan sećanja na ubijene žene žrtve nasilja

Photo: Marija Janković

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