Bosnia and Herzegovina: Increased Number of Requests for the Assistance from Women during COVID – 19 pandemic/Bosna i Hercegovina: Povećan broj zahtjeva za pomoć ženama tokom COVID-19 pandemije

3 June, 2020 –The number of requests for assistance and support from women survivors of violence throughout the Bosnia and Herzegovina increased during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and during the period of its immediate aftermath. Measures imposed by the governmental institutions were aimed to prevent spread of infection, but in the same time they influenced increase of domestic violence.

Gradual introduction of measures related to physical isolation resulted with declaring the state of emergency, and caused that women were forced to stay indoors with partners who are more violent due to the crisis. Women’s rights organizations that are providing specialized services of assistance and support for women survivors of violence noted that many women who suffer violence during isolation measures find it even more difficult to communicate with the outside world because they are under constant surveillance. At the beginning of crisis, many women exposed to violence were taken aback with new situation, and choose the strategy of avoiding any kind of behavior that might provoke violent partners, and they lacked information about their rights to call the police and receive assistance and support.

During the first month of COVID-19 pandemic, the United Women Foundation Banja Luka did not record increase of cases of domestic violence reported on SOS helpline, but requests for the assistance started increasing during April – May 2020. Women’s groups that run the safe houses and SOS helplines across the country reported increase of 20% in requests for assistance and support from women in need during the crisis, and turned to alternative methods of providing emergency support for women in need, including online counseling. Some of the safe houses faced challenge to accept new beneficiaries due to lack of premises for their isolation and focused to protect women and children that were sheltered prior to COVID-19 outbreak in order to protect their safety.

Specific guidelines and response of the state institutions, namely entity governments of the Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH toward improving assistance and support to women survivors of violence during COVID-19 pandemic was inconsistent and largely invisible, and women’s CSOs are intensively advocating for developing new systemic measures to address response to assistance and support to women survivors of violence in crisis situations.

3. juni 2020. godine –Broj zahtjeva za podrškom od strane žena koje su preživjele nasilje širom Bosne i Hercegovine se povećao tokom pooštravanja mjera uzrokovanih COVID-19 pandemijom i neposredno nakon krize. Mjere koje su uvele vladine institucije su bile usmjerene na sprečavanje širenja infekcije, ali su u isto vrijeme uzrokovale porast nasilja u porodici.

Postepeno uvođenje mjera vezanih za fizičku izlolaciju i uvođenje vanrednog stanja je uticao da su žene bile prisiljene ostajati u kućama sa partnerima koji su bili vise nasilni tokom krize. Ženske organizacije koje pružaju specijalizovane servise podrške i pomoći ženama koje su preživjele nasilje navode da su mnoge žene koje su izložene nasilju tokom perioda izolacije iskusile još intenzivnije poteškoće da komuniciraju sa okruženjem jer su bile pod stalnim pritiskom i praćenjem od strane nasilnih partnera. Na početku krize, mnoge žene izložene nasilju su se prilagodile novonastaloj situaciji i izabrale strategiju izbjegavanja bilo kakvog ponašanja koje bi moglo provocirati nasilne partnere. Osim toga, žene nisu imale pristup informacijama o pravu da pozovu policiju i dobiju pomoć i podršku.

Tokom prvog mjeseca od izbijanja pandemije COVID-19, Fondacija Udružene žene Banja Luka nije zabilježila porast broja slučajeva nasilja u porodici prijavljenih putem SOS telefona, ali se broj zahtjeva za podrškom počeo povećavati tokom perioda april-maj 2020. godine. Ženske organizacije koje vode sigurne kuće i SOS telefone širom zemlje govore o 20% povećanju zahtjeva za podrškom i pomoći od strane žena u stanju potrebe tokom krize i usmjerile su se na alternativne metode pružanja hitne podrške, ukljućujući i online savjetovanje. Neke od sigurnih kuća u Bosni i Hercegovini su se suočile sa problemom nemogućnosti prihvatanja novih korisnica/ka zbog nedostatka prostorija za njihovu izolaciju i fokuisirale su se na očuvanje sigurnosti žena i djece koja su smještena u sigurne kuće prije izbijanja COVID-19 pandemije.

Specifične smjernice i odgovor državnih institucija, naročito vlada Republike Srpske i Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine u pravcu unapređenja podrške i pomoći ženama i djeci koji su preživjeli nasilje tokom COVID-19 pandemije su bile nekonzistentne i velikom dijelom nevidljive, i ženske organizacije intenzivno provode aktivnosti javnog zalaganja za kreiranje novih sistemskih mjera koje će uključivati odgovor na podršku i pomoć ženama koje su preživjele nasilje tokom kriznih situacija.

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