Building managers in Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad join the „Tiče me se“ (It IS my business) campaign of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Serbia, dedicated to raising community awareness on support to women exposed to domestic or partner-relationship violence. They will actively inform citizens on the problem of violence, as well as the need for and ways of reporting it, bearing in mind that neighbours are often the first to learn about women experiencing violence, even before close friends or family members.
In the apartment buildings they are in charge of, building managers placed posters containing important information on the problem of violence against women, ways of reporting violence and providing support to women and their families. The posters have been prepared by UNDP, in cooperation with UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA, with the aim of helping citizens to recognize violence against women in their environment and encouraging them to respond to it.
Building managers say that joining the campaign is a way of encouraging tenants to engage in open discussions on the topic of violence against women and providing information to help those directly affected by violence or witnesses of violence in their immediate surroundings.
Domestic violence is a social problem disproportionally affecting women and girls. Violence does not only affect direct survivors, but also their children, the broader family, the entire community – and so it IS our business. Treating violence as a private problem, that is, staying away from it, may be understood by perpetrators of violence as a recognition of their right to commit acts of violence. That is why it is important for survivors to know that there is someone in their surroundings to whom they may turn for help and support, and to send a message to perpetrators of violence that their behaviour is unacceptable.
Fear for their own safety and the safety of their children, economic dependence on their partners, fear of being judged by society, are just some of the reasons why women do not speak about violence and are not always ready to report it. Research shows that less than 10% of women turned to the police after the most severe incident of violence by their current partner, and that after suffering physical or sexual violence the type of support survivors need most is someone who can support them.
That is why it is important for women survivors to have information on available institutional help and for them to know they can count on the support of people in their immediate environment.