Istanbul Convention

During the last year debate on whether we should ratify Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as Istanbul Convention) has been intensified here in Croatia.

It can be stated that our society is extremely polarised when it comes to this subject and hardly anyone can argue it with cool head; to certain circles, it has become synonym for women’s right fight, gender equality and resistance; as for others, it has become synonym for disintegration of existing value system.

Opponents of Convention consider it to be a Trojan horse through which gender ideology would be sneaked viciously into the society so that nobody could tell anymore who is man and who is woman! It could sound banal, but there were actually billboards displayed with illustration of confused little girl wondering  whether she is male or female, because she was told in school that she should decide on her own on this subject. However, no such thing is written in Convention!

In country burdened with unemployment and emigration, gender has become the biggest issue. Referring to the disputable part of Convention regarding gender, what is actually identified as problem are social roles that society prescribes to a woman just because she is woman; the same is with man and these can trigger violence.

These social roles that are given to men and women can vary from one society to another, but what they share in common  is that they are limiting both men and women in their life choices, conditioning and predetermine us for specific thinking and behaviour based just on gender. Isn’t this absurd?!

We are dealing here with first international document that obligates state to act accordingly and to do everything in its power to prevent violence against women and domestic violence and to protect victim. Indeed, mechanisms of protection already exist without the Convention but, truth to be said, Convention obligates state to actually implement them de facto and to provide financial resources for them.

Especially, it obligates state to ensure that victims have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence such as housing, shelters, telephone help-lines and legal and psychological counselling, all of which should be free of charge.

It makes me sad to see that in my country there truly are certain social groups against this important document. Working on DESA’s project Victim and witnesses support, I had opportunity to give support to domestic violence victims that are predominately women.  I witnessed with my own eyes devastating consequences domestic violence does to a woman: physical injuries, mental difficulties – feelings of fear, guilt and shame, anxiety, destroyed self-confidence, depression, and at the end loss of confidence in people and institutions. Changes in behaviour patterns are inevitable, causing social relationship disintegration and work productivity. In time, less and less friends and acquaintances are around victim helping her, making escaping violent relationship even harder.  This is why we should ensure special support system for victims, and that is the „horrible” obligation  coming from Convention.

It should be pointed out that not dealing with violence against women and domestic violence, creates social climate where violence is not outspoken, is not reported to the authorities, victims continue to be silent and filled with shame – they do not report violence nor they talk to anybody about it. This creates misconception that there is no domestic violence in our local community and society making victim even more discouraged to report violence and seek for help. Reasons for not reporting could be found in feelings of shame and fear of stigmatisation, but also in insufficient family and society support. Istanbul Convention deals particularly with these problems. Women victims of gender violence and domestic violence indeed suffer and need our help, we should not allowed for them to feel as if they are all alone.

Opponents of Convention are concerned that it could  change society that we live in and Convention does have such potential – it can lead to real, not just proclaimed gender equality, it can encourage victims to report violence and seek help, it can help to numerous women and domestic violence victims suffering from long-term violence consequences, it can help to future generations to act  different: mothers not to teach their daughters to suffer in silence because this is how proper women should act; sons not to act violently towards their women because they were not obedient. Finally, Convention has power to reduce prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Yet, there is positive aspect happening in Croatia as we speak.  Prime minister has decided to address Convention into Parliament for ratification, which is great improvement for this subject giving us hope that victims will indeed receive protection they need.

Bearing in mind the political power ratio in Croatian Parliament I am convinced that, once the Convention is presented, it will be ratified with waste majority of voices.

 

 

Croatian language:

ISTANBULSKA  SILVIA

U posljednjih godinu dana u Hrvatskoj se intezivirala rasprava o tome trebamo li ratificirati Konvenciju Vijeća Europe o sprečavanju i borbi protiv nasilja nad ženama i nasilja u obitelji, poznatiju kao Istanbulsku konveciju.

Može se slobodno reći da je društvo iznimno polarizirano kada se radi o ovoj temi i teško da itko više može pričati o Konvenciji hladne glave; jednima, ona je postala sinonim za borbu za prava žena, ravnopravnost spolova i  otpor, a za druge postala je sinonim za urušavanje postojećeg vrijednosnog sustava.

Ovi drugi vide u Istanbuslkoj konvenciji trojanskog konja kojim će se u društvo podmuklo podvaliti rodna ideologija pa tako nitko više neće znati je li muško ili žensko! Možda zvuči banalno, ali u Hrvatskoj ste zaista mogli vidjeti plakate sa ilustracijom zabrinutog djeteta koje se pita je li ono muško ili žensko jer mu je u školi rečeno da on to sam mora odlučiti, premda takvo nešto nigdje ne stoji zapisano u Konvenciji.

Tako je u državi opterećenoj nezaposlenošću i iseljavanjem rod postao najveći problem. Govoreći o spornom dijelu Konvencije koji se odnosi na rod, ono što Konvencija zapravo problematizira su uloge koje pojedino društvo zadaje ženi samo zato jer je žena, i jednako tako, muškarcu samo zato jer je muškarac, a koje mogu biti okidač nasilju.

Te uloge u svom sadržaju mogu varirati ovisno o pojedinom društvu, ali zajedničko im je da ograničavaju muškarca i ženu u životnim izborima, ukalupljuju nas i predodređuju za postupanja i razmišljanja samo na temelju našeg spola. Nije li to aspurdno!

Riječ je prvom međunarodnom dokumentu koji obavezuje državu da poduzme sve potrebne mjere kako bi  prevenirala nasilje nad ženama i obiteljsko nasilje i kako bi zaštitila žrtvu. Istina, postoje mehanizmi zaštite žrtve i bez Konvencije, međutim ona obavezuje državu da ih zaista i provodi i da osigura financijska sredstva za njih.

Posebice je obavezuje da žrtvi osigura specijalizirani sustav potpore koji uključuje skloništa za žrtve, savjetovališta te SOS telefone koji bi bili besplatni i dostupni 24 sata.

Žalosti me vidjeti  kako u mojoj zemlji zaista postoje društvene skupine koji se protive ratificiranju ovog dokumenta.

Radeći na DEŠINOM projektu Podrške žrtvama i svjedocima imala sam priliku pružati podršku i  žrtvama obiteljskog nasilja, mahom ženama. Time sam i iz prve ruke mogla vidjeti kakve razorne posljedice nasilje ostavlja na ženu: fizičke ozljede, psihičke teškoće – osjećaji straha, srama i krivnje, potištenost, tjeskoba, uništeno samopuzdanje i slika o sebi pa čak i pojava depresije te na kraju i  gubitak povjerenja u druge ljude i institucije.

Neizbježne su i promjene u  svakodnevnom ponašanju zbog kojih stradavaju socijalni odnosi i produktivnost na poslu. S vremenom žrtva ima sve manje i manje bliskih osoba koji joj mogu pomoći, a time joj je izlazak iz nasilnog odnosa znatno otežan. I to je također razlog zašto je nužno osigurati specijalizirane sustave potpore koji bi bili dostupni žrtvama i besplatni, a to je ta „strašna“ obaveza koju nam Konvencija nalaže.

Ono što je posebno važno naglasiti jest da ako se ne bavimo nasiljem nad ženama i nasiljem u obitelji,  stvaramo  takvu društvenu klimu u kojoj se o nasilju šuti, ono se ne prijavljuje, žrtve koje su ionako već ispunjene sramom nastavljaju šutjeti, ne prijavljuju nasilje niti se povjeravaju ikome, istovremeno stvarajući sliku da nasilja u našem društvu, u našoj lokalnoj zajednici  nema, da ono  ne postoji.

Time je žrtva još više obeshrabrena prijaviti nasilje i potražiti pomoć te iz istih razloga mnoge žrtve usred osjećaja sramote, straha od stigmatizacije i nedovoljne ili nikakve podrške obitelji i zajednice  na kraju odustanu od kaznenog ili prekršajnog postupka. Istanbulska konvencija usmjerena je, između ostaloga,  na rješavanje upravo ovih problema. Žene žrtve rodno uvjetovanog nasilja i žrtve obiteljskog nasilja zaista pate i trebaju našu pomoć, ne smijemo dopustiti da se osjećaju kao da su prepuštene same sebi.

Protivnici Konvencije brinu se da će ona sasvim izmijeniti društvo u kojem živimo. Istina je, ona ima taj potencijal – može uvesti stvarnu, a ne samo proklamiranu ravnopravnost spolova, može potaknuti žrtve da prijave nasilje i potraže pomoć, može pomoći brojnim ženama i žrtvama obiteljskog nasilja koje osjećaju posljedice dugotrajnog nasilja, može pomoći budućim naraštajima da odluče drugačije: majkama da ne uče svoje kćeri da šute i trpe jer tako prava žena treba raditi, sinove da ne dižu ruku na svoje žene jer nisu bile „poslušne i  podređene“  i naposljetku, može zaista smanjiti pojavnost nasilja nad ženama i nasilja u obitelji.  Unatoč tome, nada postoji. Hrvatski premijer je uputio Konvenciju na glasanje u Sabor što predstavlja velik napredak. S obzirom na odnos moći stranaka u našem parlamentu, uvjerena sam da će, kada  dođe na dnevni red,  biti usvojena.

 



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