In the words of Jasna Pejic: “I didn’t have a chance, but I want my daughters to get educated and live their lives free from violence”

Date: Thursday, August 6, 2020

Jasna Pejic[1] (50) is one of thousands of women who received hygiene and humanitarian kits as well as essential information distributed to at-risk groups across Serbia during the COVID-19 crisis under the EU-UN Women programme: Support to priority actions for gender equality. Pejic is a single mother of two girls who escaped after years of violence at the hands of her husband. She spoke to UN Women about what this support meant to her.

Jasna Pejic is a brave woman who said no to violence and left her husband. This package she received under the UN Women/EU project, provides her and her daughter with food and other essential supplies. Photo: Red Cross Serbia
Jasna Pejic is a brave woman who said no to violence and left her husband. This package she received under the UN Women/EU project, provides her and her daughter with food and other essential supplies. Photo: Red Cross Serbia

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  Everything changed a couple of years ago when he started beating our daughters. I would stop him and was beaten up again. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. We packed up and left. We moved to the countryside as the rent was much cheaper than in the city. Their school is now far away, but what can we do… He doesn't get to see the children. He doesn't even pay the determined alimony amount of 4,000 dinars (35 Euros) a month. He doesn't have to pay anything, as long as I don't see him. We live with what we have and we are happy. At least we don't have to think about whether he will come home drunk in the middle of the night to harass me and the children - to beat me, to shout, to turn everything upside down in the house.

The main trigger for a violent outburst was always some nonsense such as: the lunch was not well prepared; or the remote control was out of place; or the children were not well behaved. I was always to blame for everything and suffered all kinds of insults, which he would sometimes make me believe that I deserved. Even today I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night scared that he will come here drunk and do the same thing again… I know that the police forbid him to do that, but I don't know what might come into his mind…

After years of harassment and beatings, my spine is now damaged. I had surgery three years ago, but I am still not able to work; I have difficulty moving and I can't lift anything heavy. Therefore, we live on the welfare that we get from the State and support we have from our relatives. But I don't complain, we are finally happy now and girls are doing well at school.

With the package we received from UN Women through the Red Cross in Serbia, we don't have to worry for a while about what we are going to have for dinner or what we are going to wash our hair with or use to have a bath and wash our clothes with. It's not really for me but for these girls. They are my everything and I want them to have the life they deserve. I didn’t have a chance, but I want them to get educated and live their lives free from violence.


[1] Survivor’s name has been changed to protect their identity.