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Women of Western Balkans Mark the Start of 16 Days of Activism Campaign

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Organisations for women human rights from the region of Western Balkans again joined the international 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign. The start of the campaign, which is implemented from November 25, the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women to December 10, the Human Rights Day, was marked with actions organized by women organisations, activist groups and coalitions in all countries of the region.

Activists at the action in Belgrade (Photo Autonomous Women Centre)Activists at the action in Belgrade (Photo Autonomous Women Centre)

The CURE Foundation organized the “Anonymous Club” street performance act in Sarajevo. The performance had women sit in a circle and reading the testimonies of women that suffered from violence in their relationships. Special emphasis was placed on jealousy, to show that it is not about love, but about violence.

The CURE Foundation also used the occasion to announce other planned activities during the 16 Days of Activism campaign. They also distributed leaflets with information on what is violence and how to recognize it and report it.

The activists of Belgrade-based women organisations Atina, ASTRA – Anti-Human Trafficking Action, the “Daje” Roma Centre for Women and Children, “Of the Belgrade Circle – organisation for protection of rights and support for disabled women, and the Autonomous Women Centre, organized a street action to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.

The action aimed to contribute to raise public awareness about the problem of male violence against women, the involvement of citizens in the active dealing with this problem, and to send a message of support to women victims of violence. They asked the citizens to sign the Solidarity Flag, and among the signatories were many public and political figures.

The action lasted for two hours, with participation of close to 200 citizens, activists and representatives of the media.

Under the auspices of its campaign “Remember Ask Disturb” and the start of the 16 Days Campaign, on November 25, Anima Kotor organized the “We are all Targets” performance on the Republic Square in Podgorica. Anima’s activists stood in place for an hour to protest the violence suffered by women’s rights activists. Women from Bijelo Polje, Nikšić, Kotor, Herceg Novi, Podgorica, Cetinje, Bar, associates of ANIMA and Women’s NGOs from Montenegro took part in the action.

The Women’s Room – Centre for Sexual Rights marked the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women several days earlier, on November 22, 2014, with a public action in Zagreb. The action was held under the motto “Exercise your right to a violence-free life”.

Members of Women’s Room, together with their volunteers, distributed information leaflets and brochures to the citizens. The citizens were given an opportunity to write strong positive messages and thoughts against violence against women. Activists also offered information on support and assistance offered by civil society organizations and competent state institutions.

Citizens of Tirana leave messages against gender based violence (Photo UN Women Albania/Zhani Terpini)Citizens of Tirana leave messages against gender based violence (Photo UN Women Albania/Zhani Terpini)

The National network against violence against women and domestic violence in Macedonia organized a protest rally in front of the offices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. The National Network announced that it will hold its protest every 25th of the month until they get answers to important questions – was it possible to prevent the murders of women in the country? and how many women need to suffer and die for institutions to take action and stop tolerating the violence against women that goes on in front of their very eyes.

The Network believes that the existing four shelters for women victims of violence in the country are not enough and demands from the Ministry to establish new shelters in all regions of the country, a free SOS line in the languages of all communities in the country, crisis centres for victims of rape and sexual violence, expert and state support to ensure the sustainability of those services.

The “Today for the Future” Network of Community Development Centres, in cooperation with “Polis” University and a group of young volunteers, marked the start of the Orange Campaign in Skender Bey Square in Tirana. Dozens of citizens left their messages of condemnation of gender-based violence. The event was organized under the auspices of the national campaign “Violence is not a solution. Make a choice: be promoters and activists for gender equality”, implemented with support from UNDP and UN Women and the Government of Sweden.

The OSCE Mission to Kosovo announced, on November 26, 2014, the start of campaign against domestic violence under the motto “Real men never hit women”. The promotional campaign, which includes TV ads and posters in Albanian and Serbian language, supports the efforts of the Office for Advocacy and Protection of Victims of Violence to prevent domestic violence and calls on citizens to report domestic violence on the SOS Line 0800 11 11 2.

Two professional fighters, the boxer Armend Xhixhaj and kick-boxer Marko Božović are the public faces of the campaign as men who use force as a part of their jobs, but who would never use force against women.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign aims to galvanize action aimed at prevention and elimination of violence against women in the whole world. The theme of this year’s campaign is “From Peace at Home to Peace in the World: Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women!”

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