Croatia's national call center for victims of crimes marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, observed on Friday, by reporting that they received 1,709 calls from victims of gender-based violence over the previous two years, since November 2020.
State agency Hina did not report whether this indicated an increase or a fall in calls related to gender-based violence compared to earlier periods.
“The needs of the victims who contact the 116-006 line every day looking for a solution to their problems and support, after suffering violence, are “even more important than statistical data,” the center said in an unsigned press release disseminated by the state news platform Hina, adding that “society must protect vulnerable individuals.”
“Our society is too focused on the circumstances of committing violence, discovering the culprit, and the tendency to often name the victim as responsible, and forgets its primary role, which is the protection of vulnerable individuals”, Hina cited the press release sent to the media.
“Our friends, work colleagues, passers-by, people next to us on public transport who need help and support, not comments from the environment, can find themselves in a violent relationship at any time,” Hina cited the press release.
“As much as we are ready to discuss and dissect in detail the circumstances of criminal acts, to comment and share with others, we are so unwilling to lend a hand and send a word of support to a person in need. Our comments can contribute to the victim not wanting to share what happened to them,” Hina cited the press release.
By calling the number of the National Call Center, callers can request emotional support, information about their rights, the progress of criminal or misdemeanor proceedings and financial compensation for victims, and get the contact of an institution or civil society organization which offers the type of service that the caller deems necessary.
Meanwhile, the women’s rights group B.a.b.e. said that in 2022 to date, the number of women who have asked them for help due to violence has jumped by 25 percent year-on-year. Hina reported that the group told them that so far this year, B.a.B.e. have provided assistance and advice to 1,545 women.
The group said that “every third woman in Europe has been exposed to physical or sexual violence.”
In Croatia, there are more and more criminal complaints, while there is a drop in misdemeanor charges referring to the violence against women. The group explained that this indicates that women decide to report violence only when it becomes “unbearable.” They also warned about rising online violence against women “throughout Europe.”
They said that the roots of the problem lies in the wrong perception of many men who view women as “objects that belong to them.”
“At the political level we can see unequivocal condemnations of violence, however, in individual cases and in various situations on the ground we can see that violent behavior is condoned,” Hina quoted an unnamed member of the group as saying. The group added that a lack of understanding shown by officials within the prevention system “causes concern” and therefore “it is necessary to upgrade training and education concerning this matter.”