The project "South Baltic area - Violence Free Zone" is answering a need for cooperation and exchange of good practices on ways of opposing and preventing domestic violence against women between civil society organizations, local governments and institutions like police or crisis intervention centers. The main goal of the project is to declare and create "Violence against women free zone" in the South Baltic Region. Our main goal is to make our region friendlier and safer for women. The countries from this region have different historical, social or political background but there is the common problem, namely - Violence Against Women.
The South Baltic - Violence Free Zone
International human rights instruments determine that violence against women in public as well as in private life is a violation of human rights. Violence decreases woman’s self-esteem and self-value, confidence in herself and other people, deprives her of the right of being full member of family and community. Violence against woman is one of the most important obstacles, which hinders the implementation of gender equality principles.
All countries in the South Baltic area adopted in 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action that reflected social needs to combat violence against women. But progress has been slow and not effective. According to the worldwide statistical data, UNICEF estimates that, from country to country, 20 to 50 percent of women have experienced physical violence at the hands of intimate partner or family member (UNICEF, 2000).
When including all forms of violence against women, 45 percent of all women in the South Baltic area have been subjected to and suffered from men’s violence. It is estimated that every fifth woman in the area has been subjected to domestic violence, having her fundamental human rights violated by a man in her most immediate and intimate social environment – her home.
According to the Polish police statistics, the number of domestic violence victims was 130,682 in 2007, of which 76,162 were women (the rest were children and men). In 2008 the total number of domestic violence victims was 139,747, of which 81,985 were women (http://www.policja.pl/portal/pol/4/318/Przemoc_w_rodzinie.html [accessed 24.05.2010]).
In Lithuania statistic shows that 2 out of 3 women have experienced physical, psychological and sexual violence from their male partner. In Lithuania only from 2 percent to 20 percent of victims of domestic violence dare seek help in the law enforcement institutions or women non-governmental organizations (http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/). Majority of women in Lithuania still lack self-awareness and self-confidence, sexual education and information on equal opportunities policy.
Sweden is by many regarded as a society in which there is a relatively high degree of equality between women and men. There is, however, a considerable imbalance in the power relations between women and men. The most extreme example of such an imbalance is the occurrence of men’s violence against women. The number of police reports filed for assault against women increased by 40 percent during the 1990s, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå report No 2009:12).
Violence has negative effect on woman’s life in many different aspects. Frequently a woman, who has suffered violence, feels not only short-term, but also long term physical and psychological consequences.
In recent years there are many discussions about violence against woman in private life as a social problem which requires appropriate political and legal decisions. The practical experience of public authorities and non-governmental organizations shows that in order to solve the problem of violence against woman in private life it is necessary to build networks and supply support in a complex way not only to victims, but also to perpetrators.
The main purpose of this report is to systematize knowledge and data about domestic violence in the South Baltic area. As the violence against women is spreading widely, and crossing all borders, the cooperation within Europe is crucial to fight the problem and to help the victims. One’s own home can’t be a place of conflict. It should be a safe and quiet place, where anyone, especially women and children can find peace and comfort.
Project Part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)
Honorable patron the Marshal of Pomorskie Voivodeship
Honorable Patron the Mayor of the Gdansk City