Project locality: MUNICIPALITY TREBINJE – 30. and 31. October, 2008
On the 30. and 31. October, 2008 our organization organized in Trebinje the international conference “Theory and practice of the legislation in BH” that gathered a number of participants representatives of various institutions/organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina and wider. The Conference analysed the current situation of the existing legislation and compared the results from the field that concern children and women’s human rights.
Unavoidable comments on the Conference were covering those laws that relate to these issues in our country and that are applied only sporadically (RS Act on protection from Domestic Violence) or that are only a “dead letter” on a piece of paper (BH Act on gender Equality) as well as laws that leave possibilities for misuse (RS Family Act, acts that concern mobbing etc.).
Fact is that if we take a look at the legal regulations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities a laic reader of this text would be convinced that the situation in our country in terms of respecting human rights is on the highest possible level and that this is a country whose citizens are entirely protected from gender-based discrimination.
However, the situation is not as it seems to be at the first glance. Deeply rooted patriarchal norms – particularly in those governing institutions that should implement legal regulations – prevent the implementation of adopted laws.
Numerous non-governmental organizations working in the field of human rights with particular focus on women and children’s human rights are pointing out problems that exist in the appliance of laws and non-existence of political will in the society to change the situation.
Often, there is an impression that a number of laws are adopted only to “have them” rather than to respect and apply them in practice.
In order to accomplish our goal and, thus, enable more qualitative implementation of laws in the field, following conclusions were made through agreeing views of Conference participants for which we hope that they will contribute to harmonization of theory and practice of legislation in BH that treats women and children’s human rights.
Recommendations for Entity Governments:
Recommendation to the BH Council of Ministers:
In addition to the thematic units included in the program and which relate to legislation, theory and practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we presented on the Conference for the first time the research entitled “Victims of domestic violence as a new category of the poor” that was conducted by our organization on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina in partnership with organizations “Lara” Bijeljina, “Zene BiH” Mostar and “Medika” Zenica, that we are sending you together with the report.
We also presented on this Conference the Study of legislation in EU countries and their implementation, which was prepared for the needs of our organization and for this Conference by the London office of the firm “Dewey & LeBoeuf”.
The reports consists of four units: domestic violence, discrimination and other gender based inequalities, rape and smuggling people. The research encompasses the existing legal acts from listed fields that are applied in the United Kingdom, methods how these are implemented, possibilities for victims to approach institutions that determine justice and organizations and activities in the wider social community that work on essential issues that lead to these phenomena. The summary of the Study is also enclosed to the report.
Traditionally, the NGO Women’s centre Trebinje organized a two-day Europe Day celebration in Trebinje supported by the EU Commission to BH. The central manifestation was on the first day, 10. may, 2008, which was officially opened by the First Councillor of the EU Delegation to BH, Mr. Marc Van Brabant, with welcome addresses by the Mayor of the Trebinje Municipality, Dr Dobroslav Ćuk, representative from the Diocese Zahumsko-Hercegovacka and Primorska, deacon Zoran Aleksic and the Executive Director of the NGO Women’s centre Trebinje, Mrs. Ljiljana Čičković. The Europe Day celebration was covered by numerous media who covered the entire program of the manifestation. Numerous high guests from country and abroad participated on the celebration, including the Ambassador of Romania in BH, the Chief of the Economic Department of the Embassy of Romania in BH, delegate from the House of Commons of the BH Parliamentary Assembly, municipal representatives from Eastern Herzegovina, EUPM representatives from Trebinje, representatives from the RS Chamber of Economy, municipal councils of political parties from Eastern Herzegovina region as well as representatives from various organizations and institutions from Eastern Herzegovina.
The program of the manifestation included various contents such as cultural and artistic and sports. It is important to emphasize that the presence of all listed guests is very important in terms of development of cooperation whereon our organization is working for a number of years. Finally, basic human rights include the freedom of movement (in our case, contribution to the stability in the region through development of inter-human relations and cross border cooperation) and the right to work (creation of preconditions for development of tourism and promotion of cultural heritage).
The Project was implemented in Berkovici that is rich in a number of significant cultural and historical monuments while the nature was also generous to this region. The entire region is not archeologically explored.
The goal of the project is preservation and promotion of ethnic, cultural and traditional heritage of the republic of Srpska or Bosnia and Herzegovina and development of manifestation tourism.
The organization of the three-day international cultural event in Berkovici will enable numerous young artists and craftsmen to present themselves from Slovenia, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Austria, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria and from BH with their old vocations specific for their countries and in traditional clothing from the Middle Ages and this will reconstruct and revive pictures of life from that period. In other words, on an area size 200 000 m² all participants will present various cultural performances in accordance with the time they represent (i.e. Middle Ages), such as puppet play, street musicians and entertainers (dancers, musicians) etc. Also, three craftsmen from each participating country will represent old vocations and will make on the spot jewellery or other items depending on the description of the vocation that they represent. All participants will be dressed in clothes from that period and life will be organized in the frame of that space with the presence of numerous visitors – guests from the field of culture and diplomacy, citizens and media. All requisites that will be used, including food and beverage will reflect the Middle Ages. Since the duration of the manifestation will be three days, i.e. from Friday, 14:00 to Sunday, 14:00 the program will be entirely filled with various presentations of culture and tradition of listed countries. In order to be able to use the night effect of medieval life (night life with setting fire and lighting torches – without electric power and new technologies), this manifestation will be organized end of September or beginning of October, depending on weather conditions. As for music instruments we used only those that existed in the period concerned. Thus, participants from each country had the task to “tell” their interesting story from the medieval period (e.g. a legend or how was life organized in a castle, knights’ fight etc.) on this international manifestation and they will bring us closer their culture and inheritance. Participants would not stay in hotel accommodation but on straw beds that would be prepared for this occasion in this “village”. We provided for all craftsmen appropriate conditions for performing their vocations, including drawing frescos with eggs, anvils for blacksmiths tec. All items that were made on the spot were for sale and they could serve as souvenirs.
We are certain that this international event provoked high level of interest of the local and international public with the presence of a number of media from country and abroad, which does not represent to us any problem based on our previous experiences. The essence of this story is the revival of medieval cultural life and its presentation throughout these three days. All actors would be dressed in costumes while the audience could become viewers of the “film” that is happening in front of them.
The project contributes entirely to the promotion and affirmation of manifestation tourism globally because, in addition to international cooperation, it sends through media from country and abroad (RTRS, BH1, RTM, ATV, BN, TV Hercegovina, TV Kragujevac, TV Budva etc. foreign media accredited in BH and further) a picture to the world about this event and your support. The project ensures participation and support from international organizations and governmental institutions for the implementation of the project as well as other donors/sponsors for the implementation of this project, including Municipality of Berkovici. The economic justification of the project is seen in its sustainability because it is possible to prepare in this way “puppet plays” where tickets could be charged so that the audience would be at the same time the actor in these performances. This is a very interesting approach where the viewer becomes the actor. This is practically a pilot project that we will completely develop in the next year and build it into a much larger project that could be transferred, including guest performances in a number of towns or countries. That would be also an initiator to revive in other towns of RS fortresses, old legends, and medieval ruins and to revive the already forgotten old vocations. All this will certainly provoke a high level of interest of tourists since we are contributing to the development of manifestation tourism and we also promote and affirm RS in the world in an authentic way.
The third conference of babies has been organized in Trebinje by the Ministry for Family, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Srpska and coo organized by RTRS, Municipality Trebinje and NGO “Women’s centre”. This manifestation was organized in the entire of the Republic of Srpska under the title “Ljepsa Srpska – brojnija Srpska”. The aim of this manifestation is to present to the public the unfavourable demographic situation in RS and the participation demonstrates better care of the society and local community for children and family. At the same time, this is a form of social support for young people in their planning and foundation of families. All participating babies received appropriate presents and a three-member presidency has been elected consisting of the youngest baby, oldest baby and the baby with most siblings.
In the frame of the Action plan to combat domestic violence in the Republic of Srpska from 16.08.2008 the campaign “A family without violence” started in Trebinje. The campaign and Action plan are implemented in accordance with activities of countries members of the Council of Europe to combat violence on women, including domestic violence. We also want to remind that the Government of the Republic of Srpska pronounced 2008 and 2009 for years to combat domestic violence in the Republic of Srpska.
“The goals of this campaign are multiple and they are aimed at acting of the society and individuals to prevent domestic violence. raise the awareness on domestic violence as a social issue, improvement of institutional response on domestic violence as well as development of climate of zero tolerance for violence in the Republic of Srpska. IN the frame of the campaign “A family without violence” materials were prepared for various target groups: posters, billboards, informative leaflets, stickers, T-shirts, pens, informative brochures, video clip and audio jingle and the publication of the Council of Europe “Recommendation (2002)5 Protection of women from violence”. Materials were distributed in the entire of the Republic of Srpska, municipalities, institutions, schools and non-governmental organizations who will further distribute the materials to citizens of the Republic of Srpska. The ultimate goal of all activities conducted in Trebinje and other RS municipalities is to protect victims of domestic violence, preserve a healthy family as a basis of a society and prevent from violence. According to information that our organization possesses, in the last several years the number of registered victims of domestic violence is growing. This data does not reflect that the violence is increasing but rather that victims are encouraged to report violence on them and ask for support. In our region around 95% of victims are women, then children and in a number of cases victims are elderly parents.
Main activities are the organization of six Round tables – two in Trebinje, two in Sarajevo and two in Banja Luka whereon we gathered a number of institutional representatives who actively participated in the work of these Tables. We decided to organize our Round tables mainly in Sarajevo and Banja Luka since our target groups are entity and state institutions and their representatives. It is therefore much easier to ensure their participation in Sarajevo and Banja Luka than in Mostar, Bijeljina or Zenica, which proved as a correct decision. Round tables were organized in:
We have also organized two Public tribunes, on August 8 and 22, 2008 in Trebinje, which were very well visited by the citizens of Eastern Herzegovina. Women and girls came in a large number while there were less male participants.
We also organized a street campaign whereon we distributed leaflets, posters and we put posters in all towns in which we organized our activities but also in Mostar, Zenica and Bijeljina, even though we did not organize there round tables.
Contribution to the creation of positive climate towards the introduction of facilities for the private sector and state obligation to establish programs of economic support for victims of domestic violence into the legislation. It will certainly need much more than these six round tables to accomplish these results, but it is a good step forward. In the forthcoming period, we are planning to include international organizations and to ask them to define as an obligation for BH to include into their donations gender sensitive budgets.
Participants on these Round tables was governmental representatives from the Ministry of health and social protection, centres for social work, Prosecutor’s office, Ministry of internal affairs, Ministry of economic relations and co-ordination, municipal representatives, Ministry of administration and local self-administration, Ministry for family, youth and sports, Gender centres, Agency for gender equality, Ministry for human rights and refugees, Ministry of justice, Ministry for finances, the private sector, bank representatives, male and female politicians, Ministry of police, media, international organisations (OHR, OSC) and institutions from entire BH and women’s NGOs..
These activities are very important and I think that, with the research that you can find enclosed to this report, we made an important step forward because now we can invite documented on action. Our thesis that victims of domestic violence represent a new category of the poor can be also considered as an absolutely valid statement. All actions with the aim to lobby for the implementation of recommendations and the action plan of this research are very important for women victims of domestic violence. Thus, the preparation of a document, which used the official data and surveys completed by victims themselves and which arrived at the mentioned indicators, enables the women’s NGO sector to start actions with arguments in this direction and to lobby institutional representatives with the goal to create gender sensitive budgets and policies for the preparation of a package of support for women victims of domestic violence. After a certain period of time, conditions will be created for their economic independence, which is the overall goal of this project. Our organization will built the action plan of this research into its strategy, since we think that the basis for women’s empowerment is their economic independence, which is particularly important for victims of domestic violence.
We could say that an important step forward has been made formally regarding domestic violence (the obligation to cover the ongoing costs of Safe Houses has been included in the law as being the responsibility of municipalities, according to their possibilities; 2008 and 2009 are proclaimed as years to fight against domestic violence; the Law on protection from domestic violence has been amended; the domestic violence issue is more present in the media; various actions and campaigns of the NGO sector…), but there are no changes in the field. This can be proved by a recent case, which shook Eastern Herzegovina and the entire BH public. A woman from Bileća has been exposed to unremembered violence by her husband, who was not arrested and who has their three minor children with him. This case will help us to present you the real situation in the field. Namely, she has been brutally maltreated and humiliated for three hours in the stall where the cattle is, she was shackled up around her neck, beaten with a stick over the whole body, hit by an axe on her head and neck, her clothes were taken off her, she was greased with stall excrements, with a continuous threatening to her life. The victim succeeded, in a momentum, to escape, naked, and she run to her neighbors who called the police. However, the violator was immediately released by the decision of the investigating judge. After the plea of the public prosecutor, the tribunal releases the violator again. The Centre for social work Bileća did not allow the mother to take her children aged eleven, six and four with the comment that the most important thing for the children is “the warmth and care of the grandparents”?! The woman referred to our organization and we became involved as much as possible. Unfortunately, this is an excellent example of the legislative functionality, the efficiency of mechanisms for fight against domestic violence including the Gender centers, the independent and impartial judiciary, educated and developed professional staff of the social centre in sense of appropriate support and protection for victims of domestic violence. Due to the non-existence of a safe house in Eastern Herzegovina, the woman is forced to escape to another country in order to protect herself and to obtain appropriate medical care. The woman referred to our organization and we became involved in this case.
„THE CREATIVE CENTER FOR CHILDREN“
The creative center will have five sectors: acting, journalist, music, photo, and art sector. It will also organize different exhibitions, fashion shows, knowledge quizzes, concerts and performances in Eastern Herzegovina. All activities are free of charge for children and youth. Beside these sectors there will be distribution of promotional materials and children newspaper, the project will have interactive workshops which include education on the problems of the young, TV and media shows, promotion and development of voluntary work in the local community. The project foresees partial adaptation of the attic in the Creative centre and that would provide more space for work with children. We could also extend our work to a day centre for the most jeopardized children – children who are victims of domestic violence and living in poverty. In the frame of this day centre, children would receive maximum attention from our psychologist who would help them to overcome their traumas and to channel appropriately their feelings of rage, fear, love and hate and to grow up into healthy personalities. Each of them would be involved in one or more groups, which would help them to express their creativity and so look more positive at their lives. We would provide, within this day centre, refreshment – juice, sweets and sandwiches. Work in groups and the organization of various workshops on topics such as fight against trafficking, all forms of violence etc. is not enough to take all these children off the streets and to enable that all these children grow up into healthy personalities. Therefore, it would be very important to introduce a day care centre with the goal to work in a qualitative way with these children with provision of professional support. Weekend activities each week would contribute to a rapid socialization of this very vulnerable group – children victims of domestic violence living in poverty and it would not include other children for whom the Creative centre is also open. The Day care centre would be open exclusively for this category, while other children could use the premises and the various groups of the Centre only on workdays. Most of these children live in rural areas of our municipality and therefore we would provide transport in both direction – arrival and departure.
The main goal of the Project is to empower and enable a positive growing up for children aged from 6 to 18.Beside children victims of domestic violence and those who also come from rural areas, the project will include also other children and it would work on the building of their sensibilisation for socially vulnerable categories (victims of domestic violence, trafficking, poor, children from rural areas, minorities etc.)as well as the development of their creativity and their critical responsibility on democratic principles in the region of Eastern Herzegovina. We want to transfer this model of work wider on the local community as an example of good practice.
The Creative centre for children gathers primary children victims of domestic violence but it is open for all other children aged from 6 to 15 with the goal of their socialisation. The services and premises of the Creative centre are used by 170 children. Around 90 of them live in rural areas of our municipality. This Centre enables children victims of domestic violence to direct their interests towards creative activities strengthening at the same time their personalities In this way they are getting rid of the label “problematic” children and we can show them that they are worth of respect and that life has another beautiful side and not only the dark one that is part of their every-day life. This new method of work proved to be as very successful because we are fulfilling their needs for company and the escape from the terrible reality.