SOS service …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA provided 102 services in the first quarter of 2021.

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The Organization for Support of Women with Disabilities …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA provided 102 services from 1st January to 31st March.

During the first three months, 89 phone calls were recorded (39 SOS calls, 27 calls for providing individual and psychological support, and 25 calls asking for legal help). In the period mentioned above, 20 women addressed the Organization, 10 of which with some kind of disability (physical, sensory, mental, intellectual). 

Beneficiaries most commonly asked for help by phone (54) and e-mail (26) and less commonly by texting (Viber, Messenger, or SMS) or coming in person to the Organization’s premises. 

Among the beneficiaries are women of different ages, the youngest being 23, and the oldest 63.

Younger women with disabilities are exposed to overprotection in the family, which during the period can grow into different kinds of violence: involuntary isolation, prohibition of movement, denying the right to live on one’s own, denying the right to work and be employed, and control of social contacts. 

Older women with disabilities (especially if the disability is progressive) are at risk of being put in the institution by family members since they cannot acquire the right to adequate care, nor get assistance. People with Alzheimer’s and other mental conditions are denied the right to make decisions about daily issues, their integrity is annulled and their dignity compromised, using threats, psychological torture, and taking control of their assets.

Most beneficiaries of the SOS service are unemployed (11), compared to employed (5), retired (3), and University students (1). The economical factor is of the utmost importance for leaving the violent situation and at the same time the obstacle hardest to overcome. Women with disabilities are at greater risk of poverty since it is more difficult for them to exercise their right to work (which is a direct consequence of being denied the right to education as well as being discriminated against in the process of employment). The fear for existence and economic dependence additionally worsen the position of women with disabilities and make their efforts for leaving violence much harder. 

Women from cities called the SOS service more often (15) compared to women from rural areas (5) which confirms that the latter is less informed, can use fewer resources and support. During the first quarter services of the SOS were provided to women from Novi Sad, Pancevo, Smederevo, Backa Topola, Backa Palanka, Cortanovci, Zarkovci, Drazevac, Zitiste and Novo Milosevo.

In addition to calls from women that are directly exposed to violence and in need of help of the consultants of the SOS service, it is noticed that the calls from family members are on the rise, which can be understood as a step forward in recognizing violence as a legal offense instead of masking it as a private family matter.

The most recognized and reported are psychological  (25) and physical (16) followed by other kinds (economic violence, sexual harassment, and abuse, threats, persuing, isolation, and neglection). The perpetrators of violence are mostly ex-husbands, former and current partners, parents. Furthermore, the violence of grown-up children towards parents that developed disabilities is noticed recently. Violence from colleagues and acquaintances is less likely to be reported. 

SOS service of the organization ...IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA provided 102 services: psychological empowerment and support for leaving violence, giving pieces of information about rights and other support systems, referral to legal aid, legal counseling and writing submissions, individual psychological support, directing them to institutions for protection against violence (police, basic public prosecutor’s office, Safe House, Center for Social Welfare) and NGO organizations.

Women with or without disabilities are often in need of additional, transparent, and accessible information and support in rigid systems, understanding legal procedures, and access to the justice system. During the period psychological support was aimed towards empowerment of women that are in the process of excepting an acquired disability as well as dealing with the trauma due to experienced violence.

The rise in the number of calls is most likely due to changes in everyday functioning, uncertainty caused by the pandemic, economic insecurity, and challenges in the mental health area (heightened stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, and other consequences of the global health crisis). The pandemic period as well as the process of coming out of it further uncovered the challenges, obstacles, and risks faced by women with disabilities in typical everyday situations.

The work of the SOS service …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA in the first quarter of the current year has been supported by Dutch Foundation Mama Cash and Reconstruction Women’s Fund.

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