Belarus doesn’t have a law preventing domestic violence. Last year the Ministry of Internal Affairs proposed a bill that would have covered all forms of domestic violence and measures to determine, prevent and combat it. However, President Alexander Lukashenko rejected it.
Last Saturday, on 28 December, a group of March on, Baby activists gathered to hold a picket to support the Law Against Domestic Violence. It was the first time the city authorities allowed to hold the picket.
“We would like to say that we are against any kind of violence against all people – women, men, children, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Violence is not the norm. We want Belarus to introduce a law to combat domestic violence, ” said Svetlana Gatalskaya, the coordinator of the March on, Baby initiative group.
According to the MIA, about 2,5 thousand domestic violence crimes are committed in Belarus a year. It is about 3.5% off general violence cases. Almost every third serious crime – beatings, tortures, murders – is committed by close people who live together.
In most cases, the victims are women, although men also suffer violence, elderly men are most often beaten and killed by their own children. Only a third of affected women seek help. Some are afraid to call the police, others are ashamed. Often, the victim simply doesn’t believe there’s anyone who can help her.
Even after contacting the police, a woman is not protected from an aggressor, since the majority of offenses end with a fine, which is often paid from the family budget. To receive a protective order (prohibiting an aggressor to contact a victim), one needs to go through a whole procedure, and not in every case it can be obtained (for example, if a couple is divorced and no longer live together, but the violence continues).
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Every third woman in Belarus at least once in her life was subjected to physical violence from her relatives, not to mention other types of violence – sexual, psychological, economic. Despite this, the law on the prevention of domestic violence has not yet been adopted.