Together in the fight against domestic violence
Domestic violence against Roma women is not rare. Roma women who experience domestic violence face more difficulties due to poverty, social exclusion, discrimination and lack of social services in the areas where they live. They rarely report cases of domestic violence because they are not sufficiently informed about the problem and which services to report.
Key factors for the prevention and elimination of domestic violence are the empowerment of women, the fight against early marriages, overcoming stereotypes, as well as the training of professionals who come into contact with Roma women so that they can effectively manage cases of violence. These are the main conclusions drawn during a conference on “Domestic violence against Roma women – ways to prevent and fight”, held by KMOP in Serafion of the Municipality of Athens. The conference was held within the framework of the European PATTERN initiative, in which non-governmental organizations from Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Greece and Romania are partners.
The conference was opened by Chryssa Sotiriou, who gave the floor to Georgios Stamatis, Secretary General of Social Solidarity and the Fight against Poverty. “The first thing we are called to do as a country and as a state is to fight against early and forced marriages and to break the stereotypes that exist in the Roma communities”, emphasized Mr. Stamatis, pointing out the difficulty that Roma women have when reporting domestic violence. “A Roma woman cannot speak easily and cannot easily turn to any legal support or any counseling center, because once that happens, that woman will automatically be out of the community,” said Mr. Stamatis, noting that it is at this moment that the state must act supportively to ensure the safety of these women and support them.
The first panel was opened by Eleni Chronopoulou, Principal Researcher and Trainer at KMOP, who presented the Domestic Violence Management Protocol for Roma Women, which provides basic guidance to Roma intercultural mediators and professionals working in relevant communities and structures regarding case management of all forms of domestic violence against women.
The representatives of the project partner countries, Anna Velikova (Amalipe), Heloisa Perista (CESIS) and Blanca (KAMIRA), presented information on:
- what challenges did the partners face during their research with Roma women and how were they overcome;
- Do the different socio-demographic characteristics of the Roma women who participated in the study influence the perceptions and experiences of domestic violence and access to support services?
- What is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Roma women and to what extent has it increased domestic violence?
- Which social sectors and integration axes should be prioritized by institutions so that violence against Roma women is reduced or even eliminated?
- What are the challenges and existing gaps for professionals during their work with Roma women who have experienced domestic and gender-based violence, and what are the institutional support measures planned for them in the coming period?
In the second panel “Facing Challenges and Implementing Policies” Kostas Paiteris, President of the Union of Greek Roma Mediators, who pointed out how the socio-economic situation of Roma women affects their exposure to cases of domestic violence and indicated the need for professional training as well as culture change within the communities themselves. “We are trying to change attitudes in our communities, especially among young people,” he said.
Also participating in the panel were Manolis Randis, President of the Greek Roma Trade Union of Agia Varvara, Eleftheria Koumalatsou, Research Associate in Social Sciences and Roma Social Integration Expert and Savvoula Oikonomou, Head of Health and Wellness Promotion at KMOP.