Request for issuing urgent measures for protection of women and children of domestic violence during a state of emergency

The Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia on 18 March 2020 declared a state of emergency on the entire territory of the country due to the situation with COVID-19 and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. After the state of emergency was declared, as of 9 April 2020, the Government has held 15 sessions in which new decisions and measures for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in R. North Macedonia are adopted on a daily basis. The measures address different aspects and aim to alleviate the health, social and economic crisis that the citizens of RNM are currently facing, as well as to mitigate the consequences that will appear in the aftermath of the crisis.

A number of health measures have been adopted aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, such as restrictions on the movement and grouping of citizens in general, but guidelines are also given by categories regarding hygiene and disinfection measures, mandatory isolation and self-isolation, and quarantine, respectively.

Two packages of economic measures have been adopted to help companies, employers and workers deal with the risks from job loss, loss of profit and income, and self-sustenance during the crisis. Several measures and recommendations have been adopted in the area of social protection which mostly concerns the exercise of rights provided for in the Law on Social Protection, as well as special recommendations for special categories of citizens and facilitation of their access to social rights.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy issued a statement to the public with a recommendation that both parents should agree on the visitation schedule of the parent who does not have the children, disregarding the parents who are unable to come to such an agreement, which is especially important for domestic violence victims.

Special categories of citizens covered by the measures, or possible exceptions to the same, are people aged 67, people under 18, people with disabilities, farmers, as well as employees in pharmacies, restaurants and cafes who deliver food, and users of maternity leave. These groups of citizens are more prone to certain risks that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, but also to other risks including social and economic risks.

However, a particularly vulnerable category that is completely disregarded in the measures and the recommendations are the victims of domestic violence, i.e. women and children who are under great risk of domestic violence. Except for the notification of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy addressed to victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence which lists the telephone lines for reporting violence, no urgent measure has been imposed or proposed for this particularly vulnerable category of citizens.

On a global level, the alarm about the increased risk of domestic violence is on. International organizations such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe point out the need for increased attention to domestic violence in times of crisis and urgent measures to deal with it. Some countries have adopted both urgent and specific measures designed to meet the specifics of women victims of domestic violence, as well as children victims of violence.

This document proposes measures the immediate adoption of which will enable protection of victims of domestic violence in the face of this crisis, but will also prepare the system of protection for dealing with cases of domestic violence after the crisis. The document underlines the risks specific to domestic violence and proposes urgent measures to deal with the same.

You can read the entire request here.

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