The Slovenia Times

Every Fifth Woman Keeps Falling Down the Stairs



According to findings made by the SOS Help Line Association, every fifth woman in Slovenia is subject to violence; besides this many violent outbreaks go by unaccounted for. Domestic violence is a form of intimate partner violence and people might tend to think that it is found mostly in underprivileged circumstances, and therefore, essentially, in the least developed countries. However, the reality of the situation is completely different: according to some institutions dealing with the problem, the richest countries and the most privileged population groups experience the problem just as severely. All that varies between countries are the remedies which are attempted, whether by legislative means or by material and psychological assistance for the victims. Certain European countries have no specific domestic violence legislation. It is treated as any other act of violence, even though it requires a specific follow-up and specific form of victim protection, as recidivism is a very frequent occurrence and there are close bonds between the victim and the perpetrator. Conjugal violence is a phenomenon often considered taboo. States generally point to the fact that it occurs in the 'private sphere' as a justification for their inertia. Respect for private life in this instance means the protection of the interests of violent men, and not of those of battered women. The problem is serious as a woman's life is sometimes at stake. It is usually fear that stops her from leaving. That is why she must be able to live in a safe area, as it has been established that the danger of violence is most severe in the period that follows the woman's departure. It is often said that conjugal violence is a result of the illusion that men have superior ability to women. States and individuals should work to remove this illusion as well as train the professionals involved, such as medical staff and police officers, so that violent situations may be rapidly identified and that the people involved may be appropriately dealt with. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors Slovenia is generally recognized as a politically and economically stable country. Legislation theoretically promotes and protects women's equality. The Slovenian ConstitutionĂ¿guarantees everyone equal human rights and fundamental freedoms. But discrimination against women in the family, in the labour market, and in public life is still widespread. One of the most severe aspects of discrimination suffered by women takes place in the private sphere, behind closed doors. Physical and psychological violence against women in the private sphere has deep historical and sociological roots and is still enveloped in a veil of silence, prejudice and shame. According to the US Department of State's 2003 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Slovenia, violence against women is an area of concern and is gravely under-reported. Nevertheless, recognition of spousal abuse and violence against women has been growing in recent years. The State has provided some funds for battered women shelters and safe houses, which still do not have enough beds for the women in need. According to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, over the last ten years 12,000 criminal offences and over 80,000 infringements involving violence in the family were reported to the police. In over 60 per cent of the cases the victim was a woman. The most common perpetrator was the husband, followed by the father and in 6 % of cases, the son. Physical and psychological abuses are the most common and victims only report the violence in 51 % of cases. What Is Happening With You, Little Girl? Distasteful jokes about battered women are published on an every day basis, even in the serious press. They tend to present domestic violence as a problem for which both partners are responsible and connect it mostly with alcohol abuse. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain how domestic violence is perceived socially or culturally, although it was certainly accepted in the past when a certain measure of violence was considered normal and even "useful" for women. However, according to the Association Against Violent Communication, alcoholism is wrongly although frequently connected to physical abuse. Between 5 and 8 per cent of the world's population abuse alcohol, but only 10 per cent of those are also violent. Studies have proven that the consequences of violence against women cause the perpetration of gender inequality in all positions in life. Fear, powerlessness, loneliness, depression and other feelings, which are usually the consequence of having suffered violence at home, hinder women in their public roles, thus diminishing the social power of women in general. Violence in the family circle also leaves deep scars in a child's psyche, which again fuels the never-ending cycle of violence. Chain of cities Against Violence Against Women The Slovenian public doesn't seem to be very aware of this issue and violence against women is being vaguely accepted by the majority; moreover - it is being somehow viewed as a personal matter that should be tolerated or at least not interfered with. With this year's action; which aims to strengthen ties between three European cities - Ljubljana, Utrecht and Antwerp - who will be fighting side by side against deeply-rooted prejudices that cause people to turn a blind eye to the problem of domestic violence; non-governmental organizations are trying to draw attention to the problem and to make people talk openly about it. It is also about time to start finding some practical solutions. There is an urgent need for more safe houses in Slovenia. In fact, on the basis of European studies, at least one place per woman with children in safe houses per 10,000 inhabitants should be guaranteed. Slovenia falls well short of this mark. Another problem is that women who need help need to make the necessary bureaucratic arrangements during the day, when in fact it is at night when abused women most frequently need a shelter, however, it is unfortunately also when all the doors are closed. The Women's Counselling Service has been striving to organize a permanent refuge and secure lodgings so that women can come at any time to avoid a sudden violent outbreak at home. With the help of the Municipality of Ljubljana, the Ljubljana Rotary Club and other institutions and enterprises, the project will come to life at the beginning of next year. Anyone willing to contribute to the cause can do so on Monday, December 6th, at the St Nicholas concert. Wherever you are on November 25th - wear a white ribbon and make some noise.


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