To what extent does the new law on social protection help and support women victims of domestic and gender-based violence?

On 25 December 2019 година, the National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence presented the analysis on the topic “The Gender Aspect and the Victims of Gender-Based Violence in the Law on Social Protection in the Republic of North Macedonia”. The event took place in the Civil Society Resource Center – Skopje.

The aim of this document is to provide a review of the new Law on Social Protection which entered into force in May 2019 and constitutes a part of the social platform headed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. The analysis addresses the extent to which the Law takes into account the needs of women victims of domestic and gender-based violence, i.e. the extent to which the gender aspect has been considered in the preparation of the legal regulations regarding victims of domestic and gender-based violence. Therefore, the focus was placed on the provision of the Law relating to victims of domestic and gender-based violence in terms of the services for support, financial support and other types of social support specifically designed for this target group.

The analysis was presented by the Executive Director of the National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, Elena Dimushevska. The Minister of Labor of Social Policy, Mila Carovska, also presented her take on the analysis.

Elena Dimushevska presented the key findings from the analysis, putting special emphasis on the recommendations for enhancement of the legal provisions contained in the Law on Social Protection related to victims of domestic and gender-based violence.  Namely, the Law on Social Protection does not recognize women as a separate vulnerable category of victims of domestic violence and does not provide for specific measures for protection, prevention and reintegration. As regards the financial support, two types are available: a one-off payment in the amount of 15.000 denars for the needs of urgent protection and sheltering of the victim of domestic violence and up to 12.000 denars for health protection and medical treatment.

Moreover, although the Law provides institutional and non-institutional support for the victims in form of accommodation and services for psychosocial support, not all victims can realize their right to these forms of protection due to the lack of adequate number of available services at national level. Namely, there are only 7 shelter centers in the RNM, 4 of which are located in the capital. Also, there are only two counseling centers also located in the capital.

As regards reintegration, the Law on Social Protection does not provide for measures for reintegration and rehabilitation of victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

What needs to be improved in the Law itself, and which arises from the recommendations from the analysis, is that the Law must recognize victims of violence as a separate vulnerable category and provide measures for their protection in accordance with the individual needs of the victim. This primarily means urgent investment in social infrastructure for women victims of violence, i.e. minimum housing capacities in line with the Istanbul Convention, or at least 20 more shelters with a minimum of 8 beds per center, including counseling centers for psycho-social support of victims available and accessible for all women, regardless whether they live in rural or urban areas and whether they have any form of disability. Psychological counseling should be available for victims during the entre process of rehabilitation of the victims, and it must be an integral part of her reintegration and rehabilitation after leaving the violent environment.

Moreover, one of the recommendations is to increase the one-off payment of 15.000 denars, which should be granted to victims depending on their needs. In other words, setting a minimum amount is recommended, which would then be increased in accordance with the victim’s needs. The recommendation for establishing a fund for financial supports of women-victims of violence who have left the violent environment follows the same rationale. This would enable an accurate assessment of the financial situation of the victim, in accordance to which the amount of the financial support would be determined, including allowance for personal and minor children’s needs given in her custody until her permanent employment, and in accordance with the working capacity and level of education of the victim. These are envisaged as a package of measures.

The last recommendation refers to housing and aims at developing measures for providing temporary housing for women-victims of violence who have left the violent environment. This type of housing should provide safe accommodation of victims over a period of 6 months to 2 years, until the victim is fully integrated in the society. This measure is intended exclusively for victims who are unable to secure their own home, have no place to live and cannot stay with their parents.

The recommendations contained in the analysis are based on the individual approach to determining measured for support and protection of victims, and their allocation depends on the individual need and the current financial situation of the victim. A woman victim of domestic violence who has left the violent environment should receive a package of measures or a combination of the proposed measures, in accordance with the individual assessment of her needs.

The Analysis of the Gender Aspect of Victims of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence in the Law on Social Protection of the Republic of North Macedonia is available on the following link.

The analysis was prepared as part of the project “On the Road to EU: Preventing Violence against Women in North Macedonia” financed by the Swedish Foundation Kvinna Till Kvinna.

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