Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Unfortunately, women and girls still suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. In Serbia, one in three women is exposed to physical violence, one in two women has experienced or is experiencing some form of psychological violence, while, on average, a woman is murdered by a current or former partner or family member every 10 days.
To build a society without violence against women and girls in Serbia, UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF are supporting the Government of the Republic of Serbia, headed by the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, through a joint initiative to provide an integrated response to violence against women and girls. The project brings together ministries, state bodies and institutions, as well as civil society organisations and media, to prevent violence and ensure that, when violence occurs, the victims receive timely and effective protection and support, and the perpetrators are duly punished. The initiative is funded by the Government of Sweden.
Domestic violence and violence in intimate partner relations is a complex issue, with multiple and difficult root causes that are slow to overcome. This is why this joint project applies a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing violence against women, by supporting activities aimed at prevention, protection and prosecution and the adoption of adequate national policies. It also helps establish broad partnerships and improve cooperation among all relevant state sectors (social protection, judiciary, police, education, health), non-governmental organisations, the media and other stakeholders at national, provincial and local levels. All activities are inspired by a common goal: to develop a social and institutional environment in Serbia that does not tolerate violence against women and girls.
For example, most recently, 200 police officers learned how to estimate risk, collect evidence and deal with domestic violence cases; 2,500 primary and secondary school pupils participated in activities promoting gender equality, raising awareness of gender-based violence and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, while 200 teachers learned how to prevent gender-based violence in schools. Additionally, 140 health workers learned how to recognise and document gender-based violence. An online resource was created for those suffering in cases of domestic violence, their families and professionals dealing with domestic violence. In 2018, the group Journalists Against Violence was also established, comprising 27 renowned editors and journalists and tasked with improving media reporting on violence against women in Serbia.
Police filed 7106 criminal reports in 2017, which is an 88% increase compared to 2014