EU support increases protection for women survivors of violence in BiH News | WeBalkans

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25 November 2021

EU support increases protection for women survivors of violence in BiH

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tenzila*, a 52-year-old from Zenica in the centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lived with physical and psychological violence for 15 years. Along with her two children, she decided to report the violence and ask for support from state institutions. Faced with a slow, time-consuming process, she struggled to get the help she needed.

 

“I was faced with a wall that was too big for me to climb on my own, so I reached out to the Center of Women’s Rights. They offered me the service of a “person of trust.” Even after the first conversation with this person, I felt supported and relieved. That conversation prompted me to get up and move forward. It made me feel like someone wanted to listen to me, while in all other institutions I was not accepted,” Tenzila explains.

 

At a time when such support to women wasn’t part of national legislation or recognised as a part of international standards and conventions, access to such a “person of trust” was offered by the Center of Women’s Rightsorganisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The role of a person of trust is to ensure that the rights and interests of women who have reported violence are effectively represented at all proceedings, explains Meliha Sendić, President of the Center of Women’s Rights. Their free legal aid service consists of working on behalf of women who have experienced violence, mediating with the institutions that are part of the system of protection from violence. This and other services were part of the UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women, called“Implementing Norms, Changing Minds” and funded by the European Union.

 

In the meantime, Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken significant steps towards recognising the position of the “person of trust.” An amendment to the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) prescribing the position of the “person of trust” was unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament at the beginning of this year. In July, the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament adopted the amendments to the FBiH Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, guaranteeing the rightsof women who have experienced violence to appoint a “person of trust” to be present in all proceedings and actions related to their case.

 

The Center of Women’s Rights worked on a draft proposal for amendments to the law, with the support of an expert group. This was also part of the “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds” programme and, thanks to its work, now more victims of violence can benefit from increased legal support.

 

*Name changed to protect the individual’s identity

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Source: UN WOMEN

Photo credits: Thomas Michael/UN Women

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