On March 24-26, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) held a workshop in Vilnius on the protection of victims of domestic violence. At the workshop, participants spent time developing an interactive learning platform that incorporated the experiences of Belarusian, Lithuanian and Norwegian NGOs in providing legal, social and psychological assistance to victims of domestic violence.
The first three months of 2014 alone saw 24 women in Belarus die after being subjected to domestic violence. While Central and Eastern Europe boast the greatest number of victims, the Scandinavian model for combating domestic violence and providing assistance to victims has proven its worth and should be followed.
According to HRMI Deputy Director Natalija Bitiukova, responsible for organizing the workshop, the event was very important to all three countries participating in the project. "The notion that domestic violence is a private matter which is best left alone is still prevalent in our mentality - that is, both in the minds of officers and the public," she said. "However, all instruments of international law have long since placed an equals sign [in this equation] - violence is equated to torturing a person, which has no place in Western democratic society."
At the event, reports on the prevention of domestic violence were read by HRMI representatives, JURK (a Norwegian organization providing legal advice to women) lawyers and activists from Belarus. These reports shared the practices and operational model of each country's legal framework for defending victims of domestic violence. The speakers specified the main obstacles to the effective protection of the rights of victims of domestic violence and discussed the experiences of cooperation between NGOs and law enforcement agencies.