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Only common efforts can combat domestic violence
The round table has gathered the representatives of local authorities, prosecution office, police, education facilities and media Photo by Community Law Center
The round table has gathered the representatives of local authorities, prosecution office, police, education facilities and media

Participants of the round table in Kovel of Volyn region discussed the problems of protection of women, children and men from family violence. They talked about the cooperation among institutions, legal limitations on punishment and influences of local communities. As the result, they created the working group of activists and proposed changes to the legislation.

How to prevent family violence? This was the main question during the round table which was conducted on 26 November within the project “Strengthening the influence of community on the problem of domestic violence” supported by “Human rights and justice” programme of the International “Renaissance” Foundation within the International campaign “16 days against gender violence”.

The round table gathered 38 members: representatives of local authorities, police, education facilities of Kovel and Kovel region. Representatives of Lutsk public organizations and media also visited the event.

The moderator, head of Volyn regional public organization “Community Law Center” Olena Matviychuk presented the statistics of number of domestic violence victims in Ukraine and told:

- The topic is very problematic, important and can have dramatic consequences for the community and the future generations. Too bad that children do not come to our Community Law Center, but that does not mean that they are not the victims of domestic violence. The number of victims is increasing and their age is changing as well: in 2013, they were women of 25-45 years old, in 2014 – old people suffer more.

On aggression and legislation

The head of the local police department of Kovel city region Petro Solovenyuk told that there are 350 people in the region who committed violent crimes. If a person does not commit violent crime again during the year, he is put off the registration list. In 2015, 284 people were de-registered. 410 cases of family violence were registered in 2014.

Administrative protocols and fines sometimes make domestic aggressors want more violence. That is true not only for men – 24 women and one teenager are registered as offenders as well.

Petro Solovenyuk is sure that it is necessary to change current legislation, as it does not help to protect the victims of domestic violence on a full scale. For example, current laws prohibits arresting a person for more than 3 hours.

Pretenses to police from the court

Judge of Kovel city regional court Petro Boychuk said that police could protect victims of domestic victims by filing a defensive application. But the problem lies in the fact that such application can be filed only if there several cases of violence from one person and only if the prosecution office agrees.

The fines do not solve the problem but sometimes make the situation even worse. The most hard punishment – administrative arrest – is quite rare. Petro Boychuk mentioned that the protocols are of a bad quality, do not have all the data and facts, and lack proofs. That does not allow to put a person under arrest for 15 days. In 9 months of 2014 14 cases were closed as they were not properly documented. 24 cases were closed as they lacked proofs.

Children copy the behavior of adults

The head of Lutsk public organization “Veles” Viktor Valchuk presented statistics on family violence in Volyn region and said:

- Sometimes offenders say: I was “educating” my wife in the kitchen, my child was in another room and saw nothing. But children are copying the model of parents’ behavior: almost half of children raised in such conditions ended up with killing their parents.

Bringing up with words and good examples

The head of Kovel city Center of social services for family, children and youth Tetyana Medvedeva told about her work with negative families in educational facilities of the city:

- We talk with parents, conduct round tables and trainings to prevent violence. We tell students: if you know about family violence, don’t be afraid to tell us. And we received such anonymous telephone calls.

Olena Prystupa from Kovel regional Center of social services for family, children and youth told that they teach students where they can ask for aid and tell them about consequences of family violence. To show that words and good deeds can help, Dubivska school is preparing an event together with parents and children.

Men who returned from ATO zone are in the group of risk

Kovel city deputy head Igor Prokopiv is sure that only common efforts will bring results:

- I can say that when the problem is solved together, positive results are achieved. Recurrence is possible when we reacted not on time. We have to explain to victims of family violence that we can protect them. The most important thing is to stop being afraid.

The practical psychologist Lyudmyla Ivanova agrees that many victims of the violence do not want to talk about it and confess only later – they are afraid nobody will protect them.

The problem of those men who return from ATO zone and commit family violence was raised during the meeting. Not all psychologists agree to work with such people mainly due to the lack of experience.

As the result of the round table, the participants decided:

-          To combine efforts and to create a creative group (6 activists have already joined).

-          To introduce changes to current legislation and to exclude fines.

-          To introduce arrest and to criminalize the article on violence.

-          To work with media in order to prevent violence.

-          To work with village councils to prevent violence and to protect victims of family violence.

Reference
Based on UN data, every third woman has become a victim of family violence, in particular sexual and physical violence. 70% of murdered women were the victims of their present or former partners. From 29 to 62% of women who suffered from domestic violence do not come to police.
5702 phone calls were made to the national “hot line” on preventing domestic violence, human trafficking and gender discrimination, according to the statistics of International women human rights Center “La Strada Ukraine” in January-October 2014. 75.5% of those who call are women.

Additional information: Community Law Centers are established with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of “Human rights and justice” programme initiative. You can learn more on the Centers network activities, basics and principles of work here: www.legalspace.org

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