The Amalipe Center’s fight against domestic violence against Roma women continues
Domestic violence is a stereotyped topic associated with many taboos and prejudices. Until recently, the issue of domestic violence was not considered a problem, mainly due to the patriarchal orientation of Bulgarian society. In 2016, the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was adopted. It regulates the institutional mechanism for equality between women and men, but many issues remain unresolved.
In 2019, Parliament will adopt legislative amendments to the Penal Code to improve the protection of women from violence. One of the most important legal changes is related to the fact that domestic violence is recognized as a qualifying circumstance for murder, suicidal intentions, bodily harm, kidnappings, illegal imprisonment, coercion, threat to commit a crime. Domestic violence is defined as the systematic exercise of physical, sexual or mental violence, economic dependence, forced restriction of privacy, personal liberty and personal rights and is committed against an ascendant, descendant, spouse or ex-spouse, a person who has a child, a person, with whom he is or has been in actual cohabitation, or a person with whom he lives or has lived in the same household.
With regard to Roma women, the Bulgarian government is often reluctant to collect data on the basis of ethnicity. In addition, there are no official statistics on the number of victims of domestic violence, no state standards imposed on services for victims of domestic violence and no register of perpetrators of domestic violence. These facts remain unaddressed, although women’s NGOs have for years advocated the introduction of these measures to address the scale of violence against women and improve social response and coordination.
This motivates the Amalipe Center to get involved as a partner in the PATTERN project (Prevent And CombaT domesTic violEnce against Roma womeN), for the purposes and desired results of which you can learn here.
A survey conducted throughout Bulgaria among Roma women found that:
- The perception of domestic violence in the Roma community is closely linked to the community’s understanding of gender roles and the dominant role of men. Women are still perceived as the ‘weak’ sex and the extent of domestic violence covers more than half of women in the community;
- Many Roma women suffer from domestic violence, but are often silent, as it is widespread that these are internal family problems that must remain in the household;
- The public mediator (either educational, or health, or social) is the figure who can be the catalyst who can bring about change more quickly;
- we can divide women into three categories: those who reject or justify the existence of violence; second, women who realize how destructive and dangerous violence is, but still cannot find enough strength or reason to confront it and stop it; and third, women who have found the strength to openly reject all forms of violence and are willing to respond regardless of the consequences. The factor that determines what category a Roma woman belongs to is the level of self-confidence she has and the stage at which she is determined to change the status quo.
Detailed information on the situation in Bulgaria regarding domestic violence against Roma women can be found HERE