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SKOPJE, November 26, 2012 – Women in public spaces in Skopje face various forms of gender-based violence: rude comments, unwanted sexual attention, staring, whistling, touching, pinching, physical violence, sexual violence, maltreatment, harassment, rape, etc.
Some women clearly identify the violence in all its forms and the others do not recognize it. Being subjected to the most prevalent forms of gender-based violence (such as staring, whistling, sexual comments) on a regular basis has led many women to merely accept it as an inevitable part of using the public spaces.
These major research findings were presented on a recent round table held in Skopje on the occasion of International Day to end Violence against Women and national campaign launch for the 16 Days Activism to end Violence against Women, designed to bring attention to this underreported and under-research phenomenon and initiate public discussion with key stakeholders from civil society and public sector on actions to improve response to various forms of violence against women.
Bringing attention to violence against women
Speaking at the event, State Secretary of Macedonian Ministry of Interior, Violeta Jankovska, noted that "although we are still witnessing traditional norms, habits and prejudices, the fact is that strengthened engagement of community in this area has brought the attention to issues of violence against women such as domestic violence and contributed to improved institutional prevention and legal protection.”
Over 60 participants from governmental and municipality institutions, civil society organization academia, international community and media were introduced to key results of the first scoping study on gender-based violence and discrimination against women in the public urban spaces of Skopje, carried by local think-thank Reactor-research in Action and supported by UN Women.
The study sheds light on low public awareness and understanding of the gender-based violence, which does not correspond to the actual extent of the violence experienced by women. The lead researcher from Reactor-research in Action, Neda Korunovska, further emphasized that „women and girls face gender-based violence in daily use of public spaces of Skopje. Some of women and girls consider it is part of everyday life without even recognizing it as violence, at the same time most of them have developed strategies for protecting themselves. For example, majority of women tend to avoid certain public spaces. Yet, many of them still consider it very likely that they might be subjected to gender-based violence at least once in their life time.”
Call for improved community response
The participants also discussed the need for improved community response, institutional mechanism and legal frameworks were emphasized among other conclusions and recommendation during the dynamic discussion.
The UN Women officer in charge in FYR Macedonia, Dominika Stojanoska, said: "Domestic violence is one of the forms of gender-based violence that represents a complex phenomenon manifested in different forms in private as well as in public sphere. Unfortunately, much of this phenomenon remains underreported and underesearched.”
The study is based on diverse data collection methods, including street survey, interviews and focus groups, but applying also innovative approaches such as safety audit walks with representatives from institutions (Ministry of Interior, police officers, MLSP etc.) and web-based crowdsourcing for safe and anonymous gathering of data about experiences with violence or witnessing violence against women in public. The latter resulted in designing an interactive Map of hotspots in the area of Skopje where women experienced or testified some form of violence, which was further promoted as part of the event.
The event was organised and hosted jointly by UN Women and its partners Reactor-Research in Action and the National Civil Society Organisations Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence in Skopje.
|Action Type:||16 Days|