Decisive measures to eradicate violence against women in all spheres of society needed
Available research and statistics indicate a worrying extent of violence against women and girls in Montenegro in all spheres of society. Family and intimate partner violence against women, sex selection due to the son preference, discrimination in the field of labor and employment, poverty and social exclusion of women, especially self supporting mothers, elderly women, women with disabilities, Roma and LBT women – are burning social problems that require the Government of Montenegro to take concrete and comprehensive measures to address them.
According to the latest survey (OSCE, 2018), almost one in five women (19%) in Montenegro has experienced physical and / or sexual partner or non-partner violence after the age of 15.
A survey conducted by the NGO Women's Rights Centre on Gender Discrimination in the Field of Labour and Employment found that one in three respondents had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, and as many as 5% said they had been forced to have sex with their colleague or superior.
At the same time, research and practice of non-governmental organizations supporting victims of violence shows a low level of trust in the work of institutions, further weakened by recent cases of gender-based violence that have come to the public, which showcased the institutional discrimination of women of violence survivors.
Despite the adoption of the new Protocol on the Treatment, Prevention and Protection of Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women, the practice shows that the competent institutions do not inform victims about their rights, including the possibility of using a free legal aid. Courtrooms do not provide special waiting rooms and entrances for victims, who are often intimidated by encountering a perpetrator in front of the courtroom and even in the courtroom itself. Contrary to international standards, courts continue to apply the practice of confronting victims and perpetrators, even in particularly sensitive cases of sexual violence. Victims are rarely allowed to testify from a separate room, through appropriate communication technologies.
The media do not respect the privacy of victims, who are often uninformed about legal possibilities for protection of private life.
The state has not yet earmarked funds for direct financial assistance and support for the reintegration of victims, nor has it solved the longstanding problem of alimony payments, which makes victims of violence and their children economically dependent and exposed to theconstant risk of poverty.
According to the latest survey of criminal policies in domestic violence cases ( Women's Rights Center and the Council of Europe, 2018), most of the domestic violence cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors, including cases of physical violence against women that caused bodily injuries, resulting in ineffective penalties and poor victim protection. A mild criminal policy does not have a deterrent effect on perpetrators of violence, as evidenced by the high rate of – as many as one in two reoffenders in criminal cases, or one in three in misdemeanor cases.
A study conducted by the Women's Rights Center with the support of UNICEF (2018) shows that institutions most often do not recognize the severe position of child victims and witnesses of domestic violence, and accordingly qualify violence as an act of less responsibility. Often, the right of abusive parent to maintain a contact with children – is favored over the mother-child safety , and therefore we urge institutions to make the existence of domestic violence a compulsory element of assessing the “best interests of the child” and to provide support and protection accordingly.
A data on sanctioning policy of domestic violence for 2018
(prepared by NGO Women's Rights Centre):
In terms of domestic violence, data for 2018 show a 20% increase in prison sentences in criminal cases compared to 2017, but still a relatively high number of suspended sentences and fines – as much as 45% and a low percentage of the imposed security measures Restraining Order – only 3.6% of total convictions.
In misdemeanor cases, almost two-thirds of the total number of convictions (58%) consisted of fines and suspended sentences, correctional measures andwarnings, and imprisonment in only 10% of convictions. Misdemeanor courts continue to under-enforce safeguards that provide physical protection of victims, so the measure of restraining order against the victim was imposed in only 7.6 %, and the measure of removal from the apartment in only 4% of the total number of cases settled by misdemeanor courts in 2018.