On the occasion of the upcoming International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (the 25th of November), the organisation b.a.b.e. (Be active, be emancipated) opened the Week of Equality – a series of lectures, workshops and discussions that will involve representatives of institutions, academia and civil society with the aim of informing the public about different issues connected to the discrimination and violence against women. The Week was opened by a presentation on the 23rd in the House of Human Rights, which included the speeches by Višnja Ljubičić, the Ombudswomen for Gender Equality, Irena Sarta, counsellor in the Governmental Office for Gender Equality and Nansi Tireli, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Gender Equality.
The first speech was given by Višnja Ljubičić who pointed that Croatia has a high level of institutional protection of women’s rights, which however will not bring to a positive change in the society if the representatives of institutions are not willing to address specific issues and introduce necessary reforms. As a key issue in the struggle for the elimination of violence against women, she mentioned the length of the process of reporting that needs to be rshortened. Furthermore, there is also the issue of the so-called cases of ‘double punishment’ in which, if the victim resisted the oppressor, she herself gets persecuted. An additional issue Ljubičić stressed is the lack of sanctions for persons working in institutions, primarily the State Attorney’s Office. Finally, she stressed the importance of cooperation between organisations of the civil society and the decision-makers.
The second presentation was delivered by Irena Sarta who started by defining the jurisdiction of the Governmental Office for Gender Equality, with special reference to the role it has in the law-making process. She singled out the project “My Voice Against Violence” which aims at raising public awareness about the unacceptability of all forms of violence against women and girls. As a special success of the office she mentioned the issuing of the Rules of Procedure in Cases of Sexual Violence that had been submitted to all authorities.
The last speaker was Nansi Tireli. She commented on this year’s Parliamentary elections, in particular criticizing the election lists which did not respect the prescribed ‘women’s quota’. She pointed out that it is extremely important that women participate in all spheres of public life, including decision making, which is still perceived as a male sphere.
Again, similar to previous discussions we reported about – the Conference about sexual violence in the Parliament and the panel on Vox Feminae festival – the speakers did not touch upon the impediments that LBT women victims of violence face. However, this discussion emphasized the importance of the responsibilities of all state institutions and decision makers since they are the ones that could bring to wider structural changes in the dealing with the problem of violence against all women.