Keeping the SOS helplines open during COVID-19
All women in situation of violence in the country will have SOS helpline services available 24/7 including online advices and psychosocial and legal support.
As risk of domestic violence is high during the coronavirus crisis, women in situation of violence in Serbia will be able to reach SOS helpline services 24/7 and also get necessary psychosocial and legal counselling thanks to the Norwegian embassy support.
"Home is the most dangerous place for women." This is the main finding of a UN global study conducted in 2018 but also of the latest study on femicides in Serbia in 2019.
When households are placed under increased strains that come from security, health and money worries with the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposed state of emergency, levels of domestic violence and sexual exploitation, which is already an epidemic in the Serbian society, spike. Although there is no official data, women's organisation from the field have reported a rise of domestic violence cases in the country.
As a rapid response to this situation, UN Women in Serbia has modified its activities with the Ministry of Interior as partner under the Norwegian embassy funded project “Improved Safety of Women in Serbia” to support women grass root organizations in providing services to women in risk of intimate partner and other forms of domestic violence during the state of emergency.
This way, all women in situation of violence in the country will have SOS helpline services available 24/7 and provided by 22 women CSOs. They will also be able to get online (chat, SMS, call) advices and psychosocial and legal support.
In addition, this initiative is not only potentially lifesaving to women in situation of violence but also to SOS helplines and the CSOs providing this service which are no longer financially supported by local self-governments.
To ensure that these information on available SOS helplines reach as many women across the country as possible, UN Women Serbia is due to launch a campaign targeting women on both traditional and social media. The campaign is designed to inform women that they are not alone and that they should report any form of violence even during the pandemic and the state of emergency.