By: Ljiljana Samardzic
Zrenjanin, July 22, (Serbia Today)- Vojvodina got yesterday its second women’s shelter placed in Zrenjanin, officially opened by the President of Executive Council, Bojan Pajtic PhD, and a manager of B92 Foundation, Veran Matic.
Location of the “Safe house” will be unknown to the general public and only reporters from B92 television were able to enter on its opening day. The hidden location is kind of a guarantee that abusers could not find their victims when placed in this shelter.
Silvija Kranjc, manager of Sombor’s center for social work, told Serbia Today that a third women’s shelter in Sombor, Vojvodina, will be built by the end of this year.
“The reason why Serbia didn’t build those shelters before is that until the year 2000, the violence against women was not considered as a crime. When finally society in Serbia admitted that domestic violence is a crime, an extremely developed local mechanism of protection was needed if we wanted that women’s shelter has its real function and efficiency”, says Kranjc.
Violence against women in Serbia is defined as “everything that puts woman in controlled position by the abuser and the situation when abuser is making decisions about her like she is a thing. Violence can be physical, emotional abuse, any kind of manipulation and economical violence.”
Very often, abusers are socially interesting and amiable personalities in their social environment, but, on the other side, they are pathological monsters in the privacy of their homes.
That is exactly one of the reasons why a woman finds it hard to report the abuser. She is scared that no one will believe her and subsequently help her. This is also stimulated by the fact that the abuser is slowly destroying its victim’s self - confidence.
According to mutual data from Center for Social Work and police of Sombor’s district, domestic violence is most common during summer period, in July and August, on Mondays and Wednesday, from 6-10PM
However, the purpose of women’s shelters is not to be filled while leaving abusers to carelessly lie around in their homes. The point is in giving help to critical cases by placing them in “Safe house”, but also in helping them to manage after they leave the shelter. The most critical link in the system is the Court of Law, according to Ms. Kranjc.
„Judges are not educated enough for working with victims of domestic violence. That is to say, the bully is denying that he has committed violence, and on the other side stands a terrified victim, who is not obligated to witness in the process against the bully. However, the prosecutor is in position to carry on with prosecution although the victim is giving up, but I have never encountered such a case in Sombor”.
In next two years Vojvodina will have four “Safe houses” - in Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sombor and Pancevo. That should be enough to preserve victims from ongoing and future violence and abuse in their homes. But, as it’s already said, the “Safe House” as shelter is not enough. The system must be strongly developed, but society as well.