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International Conference “Development and Institutionalization of Multisectoral Mechanisms to Counteract Domestic Violence” takes place in Minsk

According to results of an anonymous polling, conducted in Belarus last summer, three out of four Belarusians have experienced domestic violence. That conclusion was drawn from the answers of 77% of men and women of 18-60 years of age and with family life experience. Totally, 1,030 people from all regions of the country were polled. Almost every third woman and every fourth man have suffered from physical violence. 37% of women and 28% of men have gone through economic violence and 18% of women and 12% of men through sexual violence. Figures have shown that domestic violence has been a hot social problem, requiring consideration at the highest level. In that respect, in his welcoming speech to the delegates of the international conference the UN Permanent Coordinator/UNFPA Representative for the Republic of Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha said the following:

- We do believe that the specific laws aimed at counteracting domestic violence will be passed and Belarus will move further in the sphere of establishing an overall and comprehensive legislative base. If the country and its Government are ready to move along that way, we will render them maximum support and assistance on our behalf. We are not only speaking on passing the new laws but are considering furnishing Belarus with all state-of-the-art expert knowledge on the topic from all parts of the world. We have to be committed to working hand in hand in that sphere to give an answer to the people who have practiced domestic violence and thus challenged the basic values of human freedom.

Counteraction to domestic violence has been a priority task for law enforcement agencies. According to the Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Belarus Nikolay Melchenko, domestic violence has however been a multi-faceted problem and could hardly be put into a definite framework. Therefore, domestic violence prevention could not be assigned to several particular agencies, only.

 - Awareness raising should not be focused exclusively on those who has already got onto law enforcement agencies’ radar but also on families, which seem to be secure, Nikolay Melchenko said. - Domestic violence preventive measures should be aimed at assisting in family preservation. Given that survivors often refrain from seeking assistance, collaboration in that sphere has been most important. Please not that much has already been done within the framework of international technical assistance. United Nations Population Fund’s contribution is most appreciated.

Rendering assistance to survivors has been one of the aspects of domestic violence counteracting. Belarus has also got some achievements here. Notably, the Law “On Social Servicing” was passed.

According to the Deputy Head of the Department of Population, Gender and Family Policy of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus Marina Artemenko, the Law has introduced the mechanism of the State social order, which gives an opportunity of financing those public associations, which provide social services. The next stage will be the development of social services’ quality standards, thus providing establishment of a competitive environment in social servicing sphere. Another task which has been covered by the Law is a comprehensive follow up for the people who have faced hardships, including domestic violence victims, through providing them with a broad range of social services.

The Conference has reviewed both international and national experiences. Experts from Austria, Albania, Israel, Romania and Tajikistan were invited. Delegates to the Conference will learn about the initiatives of UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Eastern European Institute of Reproduction Health, Council of Europe, Network NGO WAVE – “Women against Violence Europe”. Discussion will be instrumental in deciding on how the mechanisms of counteracting domestic violence in Belarus may be further improved.