The specialised Counselling Service Centre for victims of gender-based and domestic violence EHO – Štip is a successful example of providing quality, confidential and free services for those most affected by the violence
In the past 9 months, more than 170 women and girls victims of violence have sought free psychological support and legal aid in the Educational and Humanitarian Organisation EHO from Štip, which has been working on providing support to women and girls victims of gender-based and domestic violence for over 20 years now, and since November of last year, it has successfully run the specialised Counselling Service Centre.
It was exactly the promotion of the free services of EHO that are available not only to the people of Štip, but also to the entire Eastern Region, that served as a motive for the visit today to the specialised Counselling Service Centre by the Minister for Labour and Social Policy, Jovanka Trenčevska, MSc, as well as representatives of the UN Women Office in Skopje and the Health Education and Research Association – HERA.
“The number of people who have received free services in this Counselling Service Centre alone in the last period confirms that the society is waking up and that the awareness has been raised as to how important it is to recognise and eliminate the violence. The commitments of the Government and the Ministry of Labour and social Policy, especially after ratifying the Istanbul Convention and passing the Law on the Prevention of and Protection from Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, Is to expand these services for the victims of violence in all planning regions; however, it is also highly important to introduce services that will work with the perpetrators of domestic violence, since domestic violence is a complex issue”, was pointed out by the Minister Trenčevska.
Over the last 9 years, EHO has provided more than 200 specialised counselling services to 176 women and girls, with the technical assistance from HERA and the financial support from the European Commission, allocated through the UN Women’s Office in Macedonia.
“HERA is committed to developing the capacities of the local service providers so as to be able to offer services and support to women and children survivors of violence. This also includes women and girls with disabilities, as well as women and girls from rural areas, which, in all probabilities, would not be able to receive any assistance if it was not locally available. It is crucially important that these services, which need to be provided by civil society organisations as they best know the work in the field, should be free of charge and available to women affected by violence throughout the whole country and should in the future be fully funded from the local and national budgets, so as to ensure their sustainability”, emphasised Elizabeta Božinoska, Programme Director of HERA.
Vesna Ivanović-Kastared, UN Women Head of Office in Skopje, referred to the importance of a thorough implementation of the Istanbul Convention and the efforts made by UN Women in our country. This United Nations body is focused on providing support to the civil sector so as to be able to stand tall before the challenges imposed by the international conventions and the obligation of the State to have it implemented. This implies ensuring the sustainability of this kind of specialised counselling service centres, the need for which is more than evident.
“Women victims of violence should receive the support they urgently need, they should know who to address, they should be protected and they should receive counselling and support. The existence of such centres and trained staff is, therefore, crucially important. At the same time, we also work on raising the awareness that any form of violence against women constitutes an unacceptable violation of human rights and must not be tolerated. The UN body on gender equality and empowerment of women, in cooperation with all their partners, will continue to provide support to the implementation of the Istanbul Convention”, she reported.
These free specialised services have been made possible within the project “Providing free legal aid and psychosocial support to at least 200 women members of the minority communities and vulnerable groups”. To this end, it is particularly important that the Municipality and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy should secure the continuity in the provision of these services beyond the completion of the project.
“The need for such services exists, which is why it is exceptionally important to ensure their sustainability. Our services are used not only by women from Štip, but also from the surrounding places in the region. We also work with persons with disabilities, in which case we apply a special work protocol, as well as with persons from the local minority communities”, said Beti Pejeva from EHO.
In the last two years, within this project, HERA has delivered a range of specialised trainings on the treatment of victims of domestic and gender-based violence for civil society organisations and the social work centres from the towns of Strumica, Štip, Veles, Sveti Nikole, Kumanovo, when 30 service providers were trained to provide specialised counselling services for gender-based and domestic violence.
This event is part of the project “Providing free legal aid and psychosocial support to at least 200 women members of the minority communities and vulnerable groups”, funded by the European Union, and implemented by UN Women and HERA.