Serbia: Empowering Survivors of Gender Based Violence

Gender-based violence was the reported cause of 76 deaths in Serbia in 2013. More than 3,000 women experiencing domestic violence contacted the help line of Counseling against Family Violence (CAFV), a civil society organization providing support and safe houses for victims of domestic violence. In the last year, USAID’s Judicial Reform and Government Accountability (JRGA) Project in Serbia has supported CAFV’s initiatives to address the needs of victims of domestic violence through its grants program, ensuring that victims have the information needed to exercise and protect their rights and the tools to gain financial independence. Last July, CAFV published a victim’s rights guide titled, “Justice is Accessible to All: You have the Right to a Life Without Violence.” The Manual provided concrete information and advice. Copies of the guide are available in domestic violence shelters and other relevant locations in Serbia. More than providing assistance to victims, the JRGA partnership with CAFV aims to empower survivors to overcome challenges. Currently, CAFV is delivering vocational training for victims through its Counseling Center to equip them with the skills and tools to pursue opportunities to secure livelihoods as wage-earners.

Since February 2014, CAFV has been working with junior lawyers throughout Serbia to establish a network of legal aid for victims of domestic violence across Serbia. Through collaboration with the Serbian Bar Association and regional Bar Associations in Pozarevac, Kragujevac, Cacak, Nis, and Zajecar, CAFV is training a cadre of attorneys in 24 municipalities to better protect and assist victims of domestic violence. The training will be organized in Nis and Belgrade in April.

The JRGA Project supports civil society and justice sector professionals to advance reform, build capacity, and model innovation in responding to domestic violence, among other modernization efforts that seek to strengthen the Rule of Law and ensure government transparency.

For more information on the JRGA Project, please visit www.jrga.org.