Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Serbia's orange SOS phone: A call that must be answered

UN Women in Serbia joined the global 16 days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign by installing a giant interactive SOS telephone in Belgrade’s main square as a wake-up call for violence against women and girls.

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2016

Goran Sivacki, Mondo news portal
The orange SOS phone in the centre Belgrade. Photo: Mondo News Portal/Goran Sivacki

A large orange SOS phone in the centre of Belgrade gives strong messages to anyone who answers: 30 women were killed by intimate partners or family members since the beginning of 2016; Every second woman in Serbia was victim of some form of gender-based violence; 327 women were killed by intimate partners or family members in the past ten years.

These and other alarming facts are conveyed through the SOS phone, which rings day and night throughout the UN”s global 16 days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign, whose theme this year is “Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls.” The phone will ring from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until the campaign’s end December 20, the International Day of Human Rights.

Aiming to raise awareness about violence against women and girls, this creative installation is an urgent call for change. 

Goran Sivacki, Mondo news portal
The orange SOS phone gives strong messages to anyone who answers. Photo: Mondo News Portal/Goran Sivacki

"Given the appalling statistics on gender-based violence, we wanted to take the issue out of closed circles and conferences and put it in the centre, right before people on the busiest square in the Belgrade. The phone will urgently ring there for 16 days, asking to be picked up, and will spread the statistics and call for action,” says Ms. Milana Rikanovic, Head of UN Women in Serbia.

Gordana Pajic, a pensioner from Belgrade, was shocked after picking up the SOS phone and hearing the data: "We hear about the women victims of domestic violence only when they make it to the crime pages and become the devastating statistics."

"We, women, are always victims of violence from early childhood to old age. Unfortunately, we just do not see it as violence, but as a normal thing," said a woman who asked to remain anonymous.

Organized by the Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of Serbia and UN Women in Serbia, the interactive SOS phone installation was first launched November 24 at an event in the cultural institution Parobrod in Belgrade.

Herer is the SOS phone in action: