Slovenian women: Save the flowers - give us better laws

In Slovenia data gathered by police suggests the number of domestic violence cases has increased by 73% over the past decade. Other official statistics support that trend, indicating one in four women has suffered domestic violence.

According to Spela Veselic of the SOS "phone for women and children" the epidemic dimensions of domestic violence in Slovenia are a consequence of changed social conditions, which lead to higher unemployment and housing problems, therefore women who are victims of domestic violence are reluctant to leave their partners. Tanja Sveticic Hrovat of the association for non-violent communication holds society responsible for the increase in domestic violence:

"The main reasons are to be found in society because people in general tolerate violence and statistical surveys in Slovenia and abroad stress that there is more domestic violence in societies that have a tolerant attitude towards violence in general. "

Tanja Sveticic Hrovat says many women and children do not receive help from neighbours, friends or family because society in general believes these problems should be solved within the families, :

"The high figures of domestic violence in Slovenia and the way these cases are generally treated can be explained by the fact that the majority believes that these are problems that should be solved within families and that people from outside should not interfere. Therefore it is very important that society takes responsibility for violence and that it should be clearly stated that domestic violence is a criminal act and that basic human rights are violated and that violence is always the responsibility of those who cause it."

According to current legislation the prosecution can not order perpetrators to attend therapy because of their violent behaviour. Many say that leads them to repeat the acts of violence. Slovenia currently has 13 safe houses with 187 beds. However, if restraining orders were not issued, the existing safe houses would not be enough. Restraining orders are an important step in helping the domestic violence victims. Last year 277 orders were issued in Slovenia and it is expected that this year the number will increase. Experts agree that a law which would systematically tackle domestic violence should be adopted as soon as possible. And they agree that the perpetartor should have the opportunity to get professional treatment. Tanja Sveticic Hrovat:

"It is vital that the state shows readiness to change its laws in this field and that a law which systematically tackles domestic violence should be adopted soon. The adoption of the law is planned for this year. This new law would serve as a platform for strategies in the fight against domestic violence and this would mean that the victim would not carry the responsibility for violence."

Several non-governmental organisations in Slovenia have been working with victims of domestic violence for 17 years now so the majority of victims can find help in one of the NGO's either through counselling or by receiving shelter. Instead of a traditional Women's Day gift like flowers, many Slovenian women would prefer seeing this new law passed.