Parlamentarians Call for Improved Response to Domestic Violence
SKOPJE, 20 October 2008 – More than eighteen Parliamentarians from the Parliamentary Commission on Equal Opportunities, called for a stronger national response to address domestic violence in the country, following a visit to a shelter for victims of domestic violence and a center for social work on Friday, October 17, 2008. Joined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative, Mr. Sheldon Yett, the Ambassador of the Netherlands, Ms. Simone Filippini and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Dusko Minovski., the commission members were able to observe first hand the conditions and quality of services provided to victims.
“Domestic violence was once regarded as a private affair, not amenable to interventions. We now know that this is not the case, and there is much that can be done both to prevent violence and to care for those who are its victims. No country or segment of society is immune from domestic violence,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative who participated on behalf of the UN system in the country.
At a press conference held after the visits, the President of the Commission Ms. Ljiljana Popovska called for increased state budgetary allocations for the programmes assisting victims of domestic violence. She called for a multi-sectoral approach to respond to the needs of victims as well as programmes to help prevent domestic violence.
Cultural beliefs are often associated with the prevalence of domestic violence. According to a recent survey conducted by the State Statistics Office in the country, twenty one percent of women aged 15-49 believe a husband is justified in beating his wife/partner in various circumstances.
With the financial support of the Government of The Netherlands and the UN Trust Fund on Domestic Violence, the UN system has partnered with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, and are developing an ambitious programme to improve the institutional response to domestic violence. This programme will directly contribute towards the achieving of the Government strategic goals as outlined in the National Domestic Violence Strategy (2008-2011).
The field visits were arranged following the recommendations of the first of three public hearings organised to increase public awareness and generate actions to improve mechanisms to tackle domestic violence. These debates were initiated by the Parliament Commission on Equal Opportunities in partnership with the UN system, Embassy of the Netherlands and the Macedonian Women’s Lobby. The second public hearing will be held in the Parliament on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 10:00.