Domestic Violence in Spotlight as Slovenia Marks International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

By , 25 Nov 2020, 14:51 PM Politics
A previous campaign against domestic violence in Slovenia A previous campaign against domestic violence in Slovenia Tam Tam

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STA, 25 November 2020 - Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed on Wednesday, Slovenia called for ending violence against women. Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina said that raising awareness about such efforts is key, noting that Covid-19 has led to a rise in domestic violence.

Between 16 March and 31 May, there was an 11% increase in domestic violence cases, police data show, with NGOs reporting a rise in the number of helpline calls during the spring lockdown.

The ombudsman believes that support services for victims of violence should be a priority, including access to safe houses and crisis centres.

Svetina's office has found that such facilities have remained open and accessible to victims, however they were under-staffed and had insufficient room capacities to enable self-isolation or quarantine if needed.

The ombudsman has thus urged the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities to provide such support facilities with everything they require.

Women and girls should be empowered and men and boys educated in order to stem violence against women and girls, he said.

What is also key is supporting victims in relevant procedures, staff training and giving a clear signal that violence is unacceptable, Svetina said.

He warned that the definition of rape in the penal code should be updated, based on lack of consent, and the redefining should indicate that sexual acts are not allowed if they are not consensual for all the participants.

President Borut Pahor also issued a statement on the occasion, saying violence against women was unfortunately still widely present and affected children as indirect or direct victims as well.

Noting that the lockdown had definitely further deteriorated the situation, Pahor urged people to speak out about the violence. Silence about violence is not golden, the president argued.

He urged zero tolerance against any forms of violence, "including verbal and psychological violence, as such violence is used by perpetrators to subjugate those who are weaker and trap them into a circle that is hard to escape, especially in times of crisis".

The ZSSS trade union meanwhile warned that workplace violence was also a burgeoning issue of concern during the epidemic, particularly among essential workers, such as health workers, care home staff, cleaners and those working in shops - occupations where women account for the majority of staff.

The organisation thus urges the ministry and the government to immediately launch a procedure to ratify the 2019 Violence and Harassment Convention by the International Labour Organisation, a document which aims to eliminate workplace violence.

The union of medical associations of nurses, midwives and medical technicians notes that the epidemic has rolled back the decades-long fight against domestic violence and workplace violence.

The organisation has called on relevant authorities to step up their efforts to protect the rights of children, the elderly, women and other vulnerable groups.

A nationwide study has shown that one in two women has experienced at least one type of violence since turning 15, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has pointed out.

Domestic violence is present in one in five families. One in seven women has been raped and only 5% of women who have experienced violence against them seek any kind of help, the NIJZ quoted findings by NGOs.

Organisations providing support meanwhile highlight that help is available during the epidemic as well, urging Slovenians to report any kind of violence.

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