The Istanbul Convention is entering into force on August 1st 2014. This is an important milestone in the history of the women’s movement in its efforts to improve the status of women survivors of violence and their children.

On the 1st of August 2014, the Istanbul Convention will come into force. For Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) and all of our Focal Points and Partners, the upcoming event is a tremendous accomplishment in the history of the Women’s Movement. The Istanbul Convention is the first ever truly comprehensive instrument at the European level that addresses violence against women. As of beginning of July 2014, 13 countries have already ratified the Convention, and 23 have signed it. The Convention’s coming into force is an important step, and strong implementation and commitment of member states is needed to effectively work towards preventing and combating violence against women and their children.

Important themes of the Convention include prevention, protection, prosecution, substantive law and monitoring. Prevention of violence against women and domestic violence is essential to save multiple lives and lower human suffering. The Convention sets requirements for governments for preventative work to function, including training of professionals who are in contact with victims, working closely with organizations of civil society, involving the media and private sector in eradicating gender stereotypes and other points. Along with the state, it is also important that each individual challenges gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women.

Protection – The Convention strives to provide victims and witnesses with protection and support, including police intervention and protection through support services such as specialist service provision including women’s shelters, telephone help-lines, etc. In order to incorporate protection into a women’s life, it is significant to ensure that victims have access to adequate information on available services. In addition, it involves having well distributed women’s shelters and 24/7 telephone help-lines free of charge.

Substantive law – With regards to substantive law, the Convention tries to push state parties to introduce a number of new offenses which have not existed before such as psychological and physical violence, sexual violence and rape, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and forced sterilization.

Monitoring – Lastly it is essential to make sure that state parties live up to their obligation, meaning that once the Convention will come into force, a group of independent experts called GREVIO will measure the extent to which state parties have implemented the Convention.

Prosecution – The Convention does not stop at the identification of the different forms of violence against women, but it also requires state parties to integrate these new offenses into their national legislation, and ensure the effective investigation of any allegation of violence against women, and domestic violence. The prosecution and punishment of perpetrators is essential for survivors to achieve justice, and resume lives free from violence.

In order to support the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, at the onset of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2013 Campaign, WAVE launched the ‘ISIGN’ campaign, part of the Autonomous Women’s Center (Serbia)-led project ‘Coordinated Efforts – Toward New European Standards in Protection of Women from Gender Based Violence’. The campaign has been simultaneously carried out together with three Focal Points from two Western Balkan States (Macedonia and Serbia) and Slovenia, one organization from Bosnia and Herzegovina, one organization from Croatia, and with the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). The main goal of this project is the realization of democracy, Human rights, social inclusion and thus harmonization with the values promoted by the European Union regarding preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The project strives to promote the ratification by other countries of the Convention, and to observe how countries’ legislation matches the obligations of the Convention, which are then reviewed. The website of the campaign is available at: The campaign is also active on Facebook at I Sign Campaign, and Twitter @ISignCampaign. The area of specialist victim support for women survivors of violence and their children is expected to experience improvement, if states commit themselves to effectively implement the Istanbul Convention. WAVE’s work in promoting the establishment and improvement of women’s services is long-standing. On an annual basis, with support from co-funding by the European Commission, WAVE publishes the Country Report, providing information on the current situation of available specialist services across 46 European Countries. Findings of the WAVE Country Report 2013 indicates an existing gap of approximately 55,242 shelter places in the 46 countries, while also showing that not every country in Europe has yet established a 24/7, free of charge, national women’s helpline. In consequence, WAVE recommends improving and extending services for women survivors of violence, and importantly, women’s shelters. Moreover, report findings showed that, while women’s help-lines exist in 31 out 46 European countries, only 17 of them operate 24/7 and are free of charge, resulting in only 37% of covered countries meeting the relevant Council of Europe Taskforce Recommendation. More importantly, there are currently no women’s shelters in Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania. This is why WAVE calls upon the European countries to invest more funding into shelters, and to ensure that national women’s help-lines operate 24/7, and free of charge. In fact, our expectation is that every day a new women’s shelter should be created.

WAVE calls upon European countries to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention, and welcomes the progresses made to date. It also recognizes that significant efforts and commitments by states are still needed to effectively contribute to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. WAVE hopes that, by working cooperatively with governments and the organizations of civil society, all forms and types of violence against women can one day be history.

-Contact: Maria Rösslhumer, WAVE chairwoman – maria.roesslhumer@aoef.

-WAVE Office –

-For more information about WAVE activities and publications: WAVE website –

-For more information on the Istanbul Convention:

Association of Zora along with partners Safe House Čakovec and Social Welfare Centre with its subsidiary Family Center started the project “It’s Never Too Late” in mid-July 2014. The partners will jointly operate on the project and maintain a variety of educational and information activities aimed to identify, contain and prevent of all forms of domestic violence in Čakovac, Mursko Središće and Prelog.

Domestic violence does not begin and end with causing and inflicting physical pain and injury, it also includes a much more covert way of acting, such as psychological, economic, sexual violence. In our society it is often only the physical violence that is recognized and considered serious, while the other forms and types of violence are often ignored. However, all forms of domestic violence are equally destructive to the person, the family and society as a whole.

The project objectives are to inform the population of Međimurje County about services and places (organizations / institutions) which they can use pro-bono in relation to the protection and prevention of domestic violence, as well as the recognition and prevention of various forms of domestic violence.

Association Zora, Social Welfare Centre with its subsidiary Family Center, Safe House Čakovec and other associates will work directly with the victims that will contact them during the project, to provide them with assistance in accordance with their problems and needs related to domestic violence.

The project is financially supported by the Croatian Government’s Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities.

Women’s Association “IZVOR” from Tenja began with the implementation of the project “Legal Aid for Citizens.” The overall objective of the project is to provide free legal assistance to citizens that are a part of social groups that are especially vulnerable to domestic/partner violence, harassment in the workplace and discrimination. The majority of these groups are consisted of women of different age and social status.

Legal Aid for Citizens is a result of years of continuous work through the offering of free legal counsel and emergency help-lines with special emphasis on commitment to the protection and combating against domestic violence as the most common manifestation of gender-based violence. Women’s Association “IZVOR” has from its founding been working under the program Promotion and Protection of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality. The program is implemented through the provision of legal aid to vulnerable social groups, and special emphasis is placed on prevention and combating gender-based violence as well as psychological abuse in the workplace (mobbing) and combating all forms of discrimination and discriminatory practices.

The project aims to make free legal services available to as many underprivileged citizens as possible to exercise and protect their rights; increase the level of protection of human rights and freedoms; better represent the status of organizations of civil society working in the field of human rights and freedoms, as stakeholders in social dialogue.

Primary legal aid to the citizens is provided during all weekdays, more specifically as: a) legal counseling (office in Tenja from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; office in Osijek, on Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.); b) emergency phone 0800 200 151 (every weekday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Women’s Association “IZVOR” is offering the described legal aid with the financial support of the Ministry of Justice of the Croatian Government, within the project “Legal Aid for Citizens.” Their project partner is the “Glas Čovječnosti” association from Osijek.

A conference meeting of the Koprivnica-Križevci County Committee for Gender Equality named “The Issue of Domestic Violence and Suggestions for Finding Solutions for Opening Shelters for the Victims of Domestic Violence” was held on July 4th 2014.

Other than many representatives from the Committee for Gender Equality and other government agencies and institutions, the chairwoman of the Association of Women – HERA, Križevci, Marina Švagelj Jažić, also attended the conference meeting. Švagelj Jažić presented to the participants her experiences from the Educational trip visiting Austrian organizations for women victims of violence that was organized by Women’s Room – Center for Sexual Rights (Zagreb). The educational trip was held as a part of the project “Through Education Knowledge – Through Cooperation for Change, which is financially supported by the National Foundation for Civil Society Development.

The conference brought on agreement that the sessions on the subject of domestic violence and the opening of shelters for victims of domestic violence are to be held continuously until a shelter for women victims of domestic violence is re-opened and all the invited parties agree to participate at the meetings.

One of the conclusions that have been passed on the conference meeting reports that there is an evident need for a shelter for victims of domestic violence (Safe Houses in the area of ​​the Koprivnica-Križevci County), which is supported by the data of all the gathered institutions on the number of victims of domestic violence. The second conclusion stresses that it takes the active involvement of all relevant institutions and for both local and regional government to actively participate in order to find the best solution for the opening of a safe-house for victims of domestic violence (specifically, a proposal on adequate space and co-financing).

Association Mobbing from Zagreb celebrates 10 years of its operation this year. The association was founded with the goal of sensitizing the public to the problem of mobbing and the education and counseling of the victims of mobbing.

The term itself means a specific form of bullying behavior in the workplace in which one or more persons uses various planned, designed and sophisticated ways to violate the honor, reputation and dignity of others, with the goal of eliminating the said others from their workplace. According to research, mobbing most often happens in poorly organized enterprises.

According to the survey conducted among the persons who have approached the association, women are more often the victims and men more often the abusers. Consequently, a higher percentage (66%) of women have reported mobbing. Women are at a greater risk of becoming victims of abuse, while men are more often participating in the abusive behavior. When the women are the abusers, in most cases their victim is also a woman. The male victims of mobbing were often exposed to threats and physical attacks, while about 15% of the women have faced sexual abuse in the workplace.

Mobbing causes many negative consequences for the victim, so that 80% of the people that have approached the Mobbing Association through the years expressed that they felt degraded and helpless. More than 70% of the victims do not even know that their company employs a person that is in charge of the protection from abuse or know who the person is, even though their employers are bound to inform them of this fact.

Association Brod – Group for Women’s Human Rights from Slavonski Brod, during the period from June 2013 to June 2014, successfully implemented a project called “Support for Social Inclusion on the Labor Market/Integration of Women Who Are Victims of Abuse and Other Forms of Gender-based Violence and Women Belonging to the Roma Minority”.

The project consisted of a radio show, and coaching and workshops for women who are victims of abuse and other forms of gender violence and women belonging to the Roma minority, in efforts for them to be integrated into the labor market. The said workshops were consisted of educational modules and communication skills workshops, skill recognition, presenting oneself to a possible employer, résumé composing, IT technology, and legal counsel / legislative frameworks.

The project evaluation showed that the project had extremely good results because of the 20 participants 4 had found jobs. Attendants were given a certificate of attendance and a certificate of acquired IT technologies.

The Dutch Embassy financially supported the project.

Women’s Association “IZVOR” from Tenja begins with the implementation of the three-year program (from 2014 to 2017) called “Support the Social Inclusion of Persons Exposed to Domestic Violence”.

The goal of the program is to improve the safety and efficiency of mechanisms to protect victims of domestic violence, with special emphasis on women, and strengthening the support system for victims of domestic violence.

As part of the program the Women’s Association “IZVOR” will take actions to provide free legal services, legal counseling for victims of domestic violence and discrimination through a free SOS telephone (0800 200151) and psychosocial assistance and counseling through both support groups and individual assistance (once a month). Furthermore, the support program will be conducting tutelage programs for persons exposed to domestic violence and discrimination, employment programs and a educational programs (eg through English language courses for children of primary school age in Tenja). Women’s Association “IZVOR” will also, as a part of the implementation of this program, work on advocating for effective legislative and institutional framework in the field of legal protection, protection from domestic violence and discrimination.

The program is conducted in cooperation with the City of Osijek, Department of Health and Welfare and the Croatian Employment Service, Regional Office Osijek. The Ministry of Social Policy and Youth of the Republic of Croatia financially support the program.

More information about the program can be found at the following address: link.

Women’s Association Vukovar began with the implementation of a three-year program (from 2014 to 2017) intended for women who are in a disadvantaged social position. The overall objective of the program, called “Support for Women in a Disadvantaged Social Position,” is to improve and enhance the quality of life and promote social inclusion of marginalized groups.

After presenting the program on June 1st 2014, the first workshop was held in the quarters of ​​Women’s Association Vukovar on the topic of health at which the participants could get information on how to protect their health.

With the Women’s Association Vukovar the other partners in this program are the Center for Social Welfare Vukovar and Croatian Employment Service, Regional Office Vukovar. The Ministry of Social Policy and Youth of the Croatian Government financially support the program.