Alarming 2020 domestic homicide trend continues in 2021

Ljubljana – Murder or attempted murder charges more than doubled in Slovenia in 2020 compared to 2019. Last year marked the first time the country saw three triple murders in a single year, all of them being domestic homicides. The trend appears to be continuing this year.

The police processed 16 cases of murders and 29 cases of attempted murder last year, which makes 2020 one of the worst years in this respect in Slovenia’s recent history.

In the first months of 2021 the trend has continued: until 15 March, seven murders or murder attempts were recorded.

Underlining the gravity of the trend, the figures do not include the most recent three cases, for which charges have not yet been brought. Nor do they encompass cases – resulting in at least two deaths – where the perpetrator committed suicide afterwards and there were no charges.

Moreover, the statistics are only a reflection of the number of such offences and not the total number of murder or murder-suicide deaths.

Most of these cases are domestic homicides, including intimate partner murders that are often escalations of a domestic violence situation.

The most recent murder-suicide case, which took place near the town of Šmarje pri Jelšah on Monday, suggests such an escalation, with police saying that the most likely motive for the killing was a years-long conflict between the male perpetrator and the female victim.

The Ljubljana Social Work Centre has recorded 680 reports of domestic violence so far this year. In 125 cases restraining orders have been issued and in 43 cases the victim or victims have been moved to a safe house.

The actual prevalence of domestic violence is much greater though, says the centre, noting that such a type of violence, particularly intimate partner violence, is often a hidden problem, swept under the rug due to the stigma surrounding it.

As a result it is difficult to identify, report or prevent domestic violence. Victims often need a lot of expert-based support to speak out, the centre officials says.

Since the start of the epidemic, the centre has not recorded any rise in such reports, warning this does not automatically translate into a lull in such cases. Due to Covid restrictions as people spend more time at home, the victims might find it harder to seek help now that the perpetrators are more present.

Social work centres around Slovenia advocate a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence, warning that despite promising trends in recent years the level of tolerance is still too high.

In most cases the victims are women, however children’s safety and health is also at stake and they come first when processing such cases. The experts highlight that living in a domestic violence environment is enough to deem a child a victim of it.

Any type of violence should be reported, the Ljubljana centre says, adding that there are various support platforms for victims. It says any threats by the perpetrators or victims’ fears are being taken seriously.