The Women against Violence Network’s Board and the European Women’s Lobby Board agreed on forming the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women and are looking for experts to participate in its work.

The Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women is an independent, expert, overseeing and analytical body which will be comprised of civil and academic society experts, in the aim of monitoring, analyzing and reporting on the situation in relation to violence against women in Serbia.

The mission of the Observatory is to be a critical voice of civil society organizations dealing with the issue of violence against women, policies and practices protecting women in Serbia, providing recommendations and guidance and indicating lines of action in this area.

The objective of the Observatory is to monitor, report and take actions that affect the improvement of state policies, as well as the pace and direction of the process of combating and eliminating violence against women in Serbia through a comprehensive conceptual and thematic analysis of the situation in combating violence against women.

The observatory will particularly work on:

  • creating a platform that provides a critical voice against violence against women in Serbia,
  • conceptual and thematic analysis of the situation in the field of combating violence against women,
  • impact on the dynamics and direction of the processes of combating and eliminating violence against women in Serbia,
  • analysis of the relationship between different forms of violence against women and discrimination, poverty and social inclusion of women, social welfare, health, education, culture, media representations.

How did it All Begin?

On April 21st, 2011, the Autonomous Women’s Center and the European Women’s Lobby Network (EWL) organized in Belgrade the “Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women in Serbia” international conference.

The European Women’s Lobby activities were presented at the conference. Cecile Greboval, EWL Secretary General, talked about the European Women’s Lobby development and activities. One of EWL’s basic tasks is supporting the establishment of Observatories for Monitoring Violence against Women in all European Union member states and candidate states. The national Observatory models of Denmark and Ireland were shown. Dr. Karin Helweg-Larsen presented a work model of the Danish Observatory and their data sources. The research study “The Cost of Violence – Economic and Personal Dimensions of Violence against Women in Denmark” points to the necessity of having vast information in order to be able to reach quality conclusions and give precise recommendations for further work.   

At the second part of the conference representatives of independent state bodies in charge of human rights protection – Tamara Lukšić-Orlandić (Deputy Ombudsman), Nevena Petrušić (Commissioner for Protection of Equality) and Stanojla Mandić (Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of Information of Public Importance) discussed their roles in monitoring and implementing the law. Among other things, it was concluded that it would not be possible to form a new state body for monitoring of this issue now, but that more comprehensive data could be collected by existing bodies (mostly by the Office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality). Nevena Petrušić (Commissioner for Protection of Equality) clearly stated that no one is currently monitoring the situation regarding violence against women in a comprehensive and continuous manner and that securing independent monitoring within an independent institution is a must.

Why is it necessary to secure independent monitoring of violence against women?

  • Because state institution’s data is partial and unreliable.
  • Because establishing comprehensive indicators and methodology is necessary.
  • Independent monitoring requires an independent institution!

At the end of the conference, women’s organizations from Croatia and Serbia shared their experiences and stressed the importance of values/politics which the future independent body for monitoring violence against women must be guided by.

Representatives of more than 20 women’s non-governmental organization from Serbia (14 of which are members of the Women against Violence Network) discussed the reasons, work content and formal aspects of creating the future independent body. It was concluded that an efficient work group is to be formed which will, through consultations, develop a platform for establishing the Observatory for Monitoring Violence against women by the end of September 2011.

All attendees confirmed that despite positive changes in legal protection, policies and practices in Serbia and Council of Europe countries, violence against women in its various forms is still widely pervasive. Measures for the protection of women and punishment of perpetrators have limited effects, while the disturbing data on women murdered by current or former partners confirm that Serbia is not doing enough in applying laws and strategies. Violence against women is not treated in a comprehensive and systematic manner and strategies are not backed up with adequate resources (knowledge, organization and finances) or followed up by reports on effects produced. Positive effects of “pilot projects” and examples of “good practice” are not integrated and remain isolated thus making support and legal protection of victims unbalanced within the same service, in the same municipality and on state level as well.

The Autonomous Women’s Center and women’s organizations that specialize in supporting women who are exposed to violence see the following reasons as affirmation that an independent expert body for monitoring violence against women in Serbia must be formed:

  • Existence of numerous unsynchronized state strategies acknowledging the existence of violence against women, but which are not capable of implementing and integrating actions,
  • Serious problems in consistent implementation of law, in understanding professional duty in criminal and civil suits, inefficacy of judicial procedures in regards to process duration and its results, mild punishment policy and lack of support for the victim throughout the judicial process,
  • A new way of organizing and rendering social services which shifts responsibility from national to local level, without necessarily making assumptions about the success of such a transfer,
  • Lack of administrative data on violence, data on reports of violence, and especially data on measures and interventions conducted by public services, as well as their lack of interconnectedness and inability of presenting data in accordance to three key areas: sex, age, type of relation between perpetrator and victim,
  • Standard practice has not been established, institutions of the public sector are not open to influence regarding standardization and specialized conduct (internal procedures) and there is a complete lack of regulation regarding those who render services outside of the state sector – the private and non-governmental sector.

The independent expert body for monitoring violence against women will give an independent, critical view of Government data, point out deficiencies and duties not fulfilled, formulate recommendations and call for action and create independent reports on violence against women. Alongside the adoption of key documents in this field[ i ], good mechanisms for implementation of laws and measures are necessary, as are mechanisms for monitoring and assessing their effect.   

Activities of the Work Group for Establishing the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women

The work group created a platform for establishing the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women after a consultative process which lasted from May to September 2011. With the approval of the Women against Violence Network and European Women’s Lobby Network Boards’ members a decision was reached on establishing the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women, a Rulebook on the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women’s work was adopted, documentation for tenders was prepared and tenders were called for experts who wished to join the work of the Independent Observatory of Monitoring Violence against Women.

The following were involved in the work group: Slavica Stojanović – Reconstruction Women’s Fund, Slađana Jovanović – independent expert, Vanja Macanović – Autonomous Women’s Center, Bobana Macanović –  Autonomous Women’s Center, Ana Saćipović – Osvit Niš, Svjetlana Timotić - …Out of Circle, Vojvodina, Aleksandra Nestorov –  Women against Violence Network, Milica Miražić – Network for EWL, Suzana Antić Ristić – Human Rights Committee, Vranje.

On September 26th the Women against Violence Network’s and the European Women’s Lobby Network’s Boards called a tender for experts who wish to join the work of the Independent Observatory for Monitoring Violence against Women.

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[ i ] National Strategy for Prevention and Combating Violence against Women in the Family and Partner Relations (Government of the Republic of Serbia, April 1st, 2011) and the European Council Convention on Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CM(2011) 49 final, April 7th, 2011).