Ending violence against women

SOS phone ringing at the Belgrade main square. Photo: Mondo/Goran Sivacki
Photo: Mondo/Goran Sivacki

A violation of fundamental human rights, violence against women in Serbia is common, with every second woman having suffered some form of violence. Prevention, protection, prosecution and referral mechanisms on domestic and other violence against women in Serbia remain weak despite improvements made in recent years with the adoption of general and specialized protocols and the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence in 2017.

In the past 10 years alone, 330 women in Serbia have been killed in gender-based violence.

UN Women in Action in Serbia

UN Women assists the Government of Serbia to implement the global norms and standards enshrined in its international commitments, most notably the CEDAW Committee Recommendations and the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe.

In May 2017, UN Women kicked off the EU-supported regional programme Implementing norms, changing minds and agreed on planned initiatives in Serbia. Focusing on the most disadvantaged groups of women, the three-year Programme aims to end gender-based discrimination and violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

In Serbia the Programme will:

  • Promote social norms to prevent gender discrimination and violence against women;
  • Empower all women and girls who have experienced discrimination or violence;
  • Advocate for accessible, quality services for women victims of discrimination or violence;
  • Support the Serbian government in implementing legislation that meets the global norms and standards enshrined in its international commitments.
  • Increase the safety of women victims of domestic violence and human trafficking;
  • Introduce feminist change in Serbia’s educational system;
  • Tackle the arranged and forced marriages of Roma girls;
  • Create a stronger institutional response to gender-based violence in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Furthermore, women with disability, especially those who are deprived of legal capacity and placed in institutions, are often exposed to various forms of violence and treatments without their consent.

Therefore, as of March 2018, UN Women, in cooperation with OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA and ILO and in partnership with the Ministry for Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, launched the project “Autonomy, Voice and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Serbia” through the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The project has been providing a holistic response to the lack of recognition of the rights of women and girls with disabilities. The project goes beyond refraining from discriminatory actions to providing channels for voice and agency, raising self-confidence and increasing their power and authority to take decisions in all areas.

In addition, together with UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF, UN Women implements the Joint UN project Integrated Response to Violence against Women in Serbia, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Focusing on prevention, protection, prosecution, policy and partnership, the project works to improve protection and response mechanisms for survivors of violence by enhancing state, community and individual institutional practices. To tackle this complex issue, the project engages at the national, provincial and local level with government, NGOs, the media and the social, judicial, police, education and health sectors.

Within this project, UN Women contributes to the effective delivery by specialist service providers of integrated services for women and children survivors of violence. The focus is on specific forms of violence against women, including stalking, sexual violence, rape, forced marriages and sexual harassment, and protecting women victims of violence in Vojvodina, particularly those from vulnerable groups.