In our country, every other woman over the age of 15 has experienced some form of physical, psychological, or sexual violence. These data should worry us. But believe it or not, there are even more devastating ones. According to the latest UN report, more than five women in the world every hour are killed by their partner or family member. In the last year alone, more than 81,000 women were killed worldwide.
More than half of this number were killed by their spouses. Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not spared from this either. In just two months, we had two murders of women, who were killed by their spouses.
Sabiha Husić, director of the Medica Association from Zenica, which has been working for almost three decades and tries to, among other things, respond to violence, spoke about this topic and how to help women who suffer violence, but also how to protect themselves in Dnevnik 2.
We should all be concerned when we hear statistics about violence against women, but also wonder how many undetected cases there are, says Husić.
When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, non-governmental organizations continuously point to gender-based violence and that women are the target of partner violence both in their families and in the community in general. However, there are no complete statistics on gender-based violence for our country. According to some research, more than 60 women have been killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2017 alone – which are documented cases, says Husić.
“That’s one murdered woman every month, and I wonder how many cases are undocumented.” This is characteristic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, bearing in mind that we live in a patriarchal society where we do not openly talk about what we go through in our families. On the contrary, a woman is expected to be silent, suffer, preserve marital relations, to protect children, that it is important to have a parent, that is, a father at any cost. As long as we have such attitudes in society and we do not have a quick and adequate response from the institutions, we will, unfortunately, hear about these outcomes and statistics.”
Husić points out that Medica Zenica has a Safe House for care, help and support for victims of violence, women and children, and that women in the Safe House have full support – from logistics to professional, psychosocial, occupational therapy.
“Also, it is important that we try to establish communication and cooperation with the competent institutions. Unfortunately, our situation, especially within the Federation, is such that if a woman who is a victim of violence decides to speak about it, she cannot ask for help and support at the Safe House herself, she must do it through the competent institutions – the police and the center for social work,” Husic explains.
He emphasizes that Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified the Istanbul Convention, which, among other things, indicates the importance of specialized services, and one of them is care in the Safe House.
“Safe houses should be easily accessible. If a woman cannot ask for help and support in a Safe House on her own, are Safe Houses easily accessible, especially in areas where this is still a taboo subject and where, unfortunately, the representatives of the aforementioned institutions are full of prejudices and stereotypes and in some way they always try to find ways to return the woman to the family,” Husić pointed out.
He adds that the authority of the institutions is not to investigate, judge the woman’s attitude, behavior, but to help her, to listen to the voice of the victims, and not to act as they think and as they think at the given moment.
According to her, we have relatively good legislation at the entity level and in the Brčko District when it comes to these matters, but we do not have an umbrella law.
“However, the implementation of existing laws is not going in the best direction. Therefore, we constantly point out how important cooperation is, how important it is that Safe Houses have adequate funding, and not that institutions – as we had the case specifically in our Safe House – ask what is included in the 15 stamps that participate,” said Husić.
Asked to comment on the fact that, at the recent session of the UN Security Council, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the only country in Europe that abstained during the vote on the adopted resolution on violence against women in Iran, Husić says that it still shows the attitude of our society towards women.
“Regardless of all the education, until there is a change in attitude, we will have such responses towards women in other countries, as well as when it comes to women who are potential victims or victims of gender-based violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, concluded Husić.