SOS helpline for victims of violence in family received almost 500 calls in less than two months

Oct 26, 2015

In less than two months since its establishment, SOS helpline for victims of violence in family received 497 phone calls. “This is an indication that the citizens' awareness is changing, which justifies the introduction of such national service. We need to work on raising awareness and through campaigns of this kind we need to find ways to reach out to every woman in Montenegro that is suffering from some kind of violence“- said Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Zorica Kovačević at the media conference organized within the campaign for promotion of the national SOS helpline for victims of violence in family. This social service for protection and support to victims of violence in family is toll-free, available 24/7 and all calls are anonymous. It was established at the beginning of September 2015, within the project jointly implemented by UNDP and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, in cooperation with NGO SOS Niksic, with the financial support of the European Union.  

During the conference, participants pointed out to some of the striking data revealed by the Study on Family Violence in 2012: every third woman in Montenegro is a victim of some sort of violence, while every fourth respondent believes that violence is justified in some situations. In more than 80% of cases, immediate or close family members of the victim knew about the violence, but only 29% of them offered some support to the victim and her children. Only 12% of all these cases of violence in family were reported to the authorities.

“We should all be aware that violence against women is a signpost of gender inequality and systemic gender-based discrimination. Evidently, Montenegro still preserves patriarchal attitudes and patterns of behaviour, which calls for additional institutional efforts in changing the overall social environment. This also calls for collective efforts in advocating for zero tolerance towards violent behaviour at home or wherever it takes place,” Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro pointed out.

Municipality of Niksic will continue addressing the issue of violence in family and thus contributing to the collective efforts of the Government, Ministry and numerous partners in this endeavour, it was emphasized by the Mayor of Niksic Veselin Grbovic. He said that domestic violence affects each and every one of us, and noted that this topic is no longer a taboo, that people are talking more openly about it and trying to find solutions to it.

Daniel Hurtado Dominguez, Deputy Head of Cooperation Section in the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro reiterated that violence in family is no longer a taboo topic in Montenegro. “Results of the research in this specific area reveal equally striking data in the EU countries as in Montenegro. “Although high quality laws and regulations are of crucial importance, it is necessary to start changing attitudes at all levels of decision making, in order to bring this long journey to an end. The biggest challenge for Montenegro will be the change of attitudes and awareness raising,“ said Dominguez.

Nevertheless, the results achieved in the last two months are encouraging. “By the introduction of the national SOS line service, Montenegro provides a new standard in protecting victims of violence in family because victims can count on a quick and efficient response to violence in family. All those involved in the protection system can count on us as responsible partners, because we take the responsibility and the role that belongs to us, which is empowerment of victims“, said Natasa Medjedovic, coordinator of the SOS line.

The problem of violence in family represents one of the key issues in Montenegrin society, and in order to resolve this issue there is a need for an adequate approach and response of all competent institutions as well as relevant stakeholders. There has been a significant shift in this field, which can be seen by the establishment of the national SOS line for victims of violence in family as well as by the ratification of the Istanbul convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. However, there are still numerous challenges in the struggle against violence in family in Montenegro. Adequate resolution of this problem will be possible only with inter-institutional cooperation and further harmonization of national legislation with international regulations and standards in this area.

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