Final Report of Greece
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality of the Ministry of the Interior is the governmental agency competent to plan, implement and monitor the policies for equality between women and men in all sectors. According to the National Policy Priorities and the Axes for Action on Gender Equality (2004-2008) adopted by the Governmental Committee, the prevention of and fighting violence against women constitutes one of the axes needing direct special actions. In this framework, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality has adopted and implements a National Plan of Action to combat violence against women, including domestic violence.
The Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence provides additional value to the whole effort. Recognising that, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality participates in the campaign implementing the following measures:
Legal and policy measures
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality has cooperated with the Ministry of Justice on the elaboration of Law 3500/2006 on combating domestic violence, aiming at the protection of the fundamental rights of women and children. Reformative breakthroughs of the law are the following:
· stricter formation of sanctions imposed for committing certain culpable acts within family (especially corporal injuries and illegal violence or threat)
· establishment of the procedure of penal mediation for misdemeanours of domestic violence
· forced sexual intercourse without the free will of both spouses is regarded to constitute a penal crime
· explicit prohibition of corporal violence against minors as a means of correction
· extension of the scope of application of the law in the permanent cohabitation of an unmarried couple
· ensuring the protection of victims by means of facilitating their access to judicial procedures, and, on the other hand, guaranteeing their security within and outside family. In particular, the immediate expulsion of the perpetrator from the residence and the prohibition for him to have access to the places of residence and work of the victim, to the residence of the victim’s closest relatives, to the shelters and to the children’s schools, so as to ensure the most effective protection of victims and their children
· moreover, the acts of domestic violence against a pregnant woman are severely punished, while the exercise of domestic violence constitutes a rebuttable presumption of marriage breakdown, as do the cases of adultery, bigamy, and attempt on the life of the victim.
Support and protection for victims
State and local authorities, as well as NGO’s run Consultation Centers and safe Shelters for women victims of domestic violence, in most of the big cities of the country. The new Code on Municipalities and Communities (Law 3463/2006) provides, as a new competency of the Local Government Organisations of first degree, advisory support of victims of domestic violence and violence between cohabiting persons.
The assistance to victims of domestic violence through the two Consultation Centres (in Athens and in Pireaus) of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality is going on providing advisory, psychological and legal support.
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality implements, as final beneficiary, the project: «Integrated interventions in favour of women» in the framework of the Operational Plan «Employment and Vocational Training 2000-2006» of the 3rd European Community Support Framework, by means of which not only unemployed women are actually supported in getting a job, but also the reconciliation between professional and family life is facilitated. The project involves all administrative regions of the country, and it is of an initial total budget of 53 million euros, increased by 6.000.000 euros in 2006. This project benefits a total number of 9.018 women, mainly unemployed of any age, in every region of the country.
It mainly addresses unemployed women and, also, women who belong to socially vulnerable groups and aims at improving the access, the social support and the participation of women in the labour market by means of providing them with information, advisory and social support services so as to promote them in employment. The selection procedure contains a special provision for women belonging to vulnerable groups. Women who are victims of domestic violence are given priority according to the selection criteria.
The Research Centre for Gender Equality (Κ.Ε.TH.Ι.), supervised and financed by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, has started implementing a Programme Providing Supplementary Supporting Services, titled «Improving the conditions of the integration of vulnerable groups of women in the labour market». The programme aims at strengthening and preparing women to integrate in the labour market, to support them in undertaking entrepreneurial initiatives and to promote them to jobs.
The programmes of advisory and legal supporting services provide advisory and legal assistance in regard to issues of employment and entrepreneurship as well as in regard to dealing with problems of domestic violence to beneficiary women. They are realised in nine (9) Regions of the country (East Macedonia – Thrace, Central Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, Central Greece, West Greece, Attica, Peloponnese, and Crete).
In the same framework, the already operating advisory centres of K.E.TH.I. in Athens, Thessaloniki, Volos, and Heracleion have been reinforced. Moreover, five (5) new branches are being established in Kalamata, Amfissa, Preveza, Komotini and Alexandroupolis. The total budget of the project is 2.350.668,04 €.
There are 3.475 beneficiary women. They belong to special groups threatened by social exclusion, such as long-term unemployed above 45 years of age, and other groups of women threatened by exclusion from the labour market, especially immigrant women.
Collecting reliable and comparable data is a key priority for General Secretariat for Gender Equality. To this end, the existing statistical database, which elaborates data collected by the Consultation Centres, is in the process of upgrading. The data refer to women who came in contact with the Consultation Centres of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality and received psycho-social and legal advice services, and they provide information about both the perpetrator and the victim.
Meanwhile General Secretariat for Gender Equality is planning to conduct a survey on violence against women in order to collect population-based data.
A leaflet on domestic violence has been published and translated in English, Arabian and Persian. The publication of the leaflet on domestic violence in Arabian and Persian has been considered as necessary in the framework of implementing the Memorandum of Cooperation with the UN High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees in Greece.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the General Secretariat for Gender Equality has produced an informational TV spot which is broadcast on the greek television.
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality participates in the 16 days of activism against gender violence (25 November – 10 December). In this framework, information kiosks operate in Athens, distributing leaflets on domestic violence, while relevant messages are advertised through posters in public transports (buses, trams, metro etc).
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality has already held two events, so that the relevant professionals can be informed about the new Law on Domestic Violence. The first one was titled «Latest Facts about Domestic Violence» and was carried out on 28/3/2007 in cooperation with the Center of Penal and Criminological Research (University of Athens). The second one was titled «Domestic Violence: Prospects of Law 3500/06» and was carried out on 28/6/2007 in cooperation with the Athens Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeal and the Center of Penal and Criminological Research (University of Athens).
In cooperation with the Institute of Training of the National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government, training and sensitisation seminars addressing judges, public prosecutors, police officers and health and social workers have been carried out, aiming at handling cases of domestic violence and trafficking more effectively.
The Research Centre for Gender Equality (ΚΕTHΙ), which is supervised by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, implements a programme entitled: «Sensitisation of teachers and interventional programmes promoting gender equality». The Programme has a total budget of 25 million euro, belongs to the Operational Project of Education and Initial Vocational Training - ΕPΕΑΕΚ ΙΙ – 3rd European Community Support Framework, and is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (ΥP.Ε.P.TH.). It aims at promoting gender equality in secondary education and initial vocational training, introducing the relevant issues through the implementation of Interventional Programmes by school units.
Since the beginning of the project till the present day, 487 Cooperations of School Units have been established with the participation of 2.626 school units, 4.909 teachers (34% male teachers and 66% female teachers) and 72.696 pupils (47% boys and 53% girls).
On the occasion of the campaign of the Council of Europe, attempts were made so that, during the campaign and, more specifically, during school-years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, the interventions be focused in domestic violence issues. The project operates as follows:
The KETHI trainers, in cooperation with the secondary-school teachers, prepare the interventional training courses. The teachers, in cooperation with the students, work on the subject, dedicating to it some teaching hours per week, during the whole year. In their efforts they are supported by and they cooperate with the scientific committee of the project, nominated by the KETHI and consisted of university professors specializing in gender issues and carrying out gender studies programmes in the Greek universities.
In the end of the school-year, the school unit organises an event during which it presents the work accomplished. This event may include short theatre plays inspired and played by the students, cinema, photography exhibitions, lectures, etc. In order to achieve the highest possible sensitisation of the local community, teachers, students, parents, local authorities as well as members of the community are invited to attend the event. A discussion also takes place, with the participation of the invited, aiming at the best possible awareness and sensitisation of the participants on the social phenomenon of domestic violence, its dimension, its consequences on victims as well as the ways to combat them. Information material, either prepared by the students as part of their undertaken work or published by support structures for women victims of violence, is distributed. During the school year (2006-2007) 188 Cooperations of School Units have been established, implementing Interventional Programmes.
In 2007, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, in cooperation with the Research Centre for Gender Equality (ΚΕTHΙ) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, implemented the programme «Training of Greek Bodies on how to Confront International Trafficking» with a total budget of 166.786,2€. The Programme aimed at reinforcing the existing support structures for women victims of violence, by means of carrying out an integrated training action for the members of the competent authorities. The basic goal of the project is the creation of appropriately trained staff, which will be able to handle incidents of violence against women effectively and in compliance with the new international rules of treatment. The whole training procedure referred to issues of domestic violence and trafficking.
The action is addressed to the staff of social services of Municipalities and Prefectures, the KETHI personnel involved in victims’ consultation services, as well as police officers, judges, shelters’ staff, health and social workers, and other employees in social protection structures that provide services to victims of violence.
The training was realised by experts of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, of the KETHI, and of the International Organization of Migration, who consisted the education team of the programme. In cooperation with the Athens Office of the International Organization of Migration, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality has promoted a training action, during which the new international teaching tools were presented to Greek competent authorities. The training material is a pioneer combination of original and derivative material such as testimonies, case studies and good practices. It is the result of the collective action and experience of international organizations engaging, in recent years, in combating the phenomenon of violence against women, including domestic violence. The consultants of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality lectured on the topic of domestic violence. They referred to the services provided by the Consultation Centres of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality, the advisory process and the statistical data regarding the handled cases. They also referred to the myths concerning women’s abuse, the definition of violence, the cycle of violence, the perpetrator’s and the victim’s profile, the victims’ survival techniques, the consequences of violence on the victim’s mental health. They reported cases of violence and their outcomes. They also analysed the existing in Greece legal framework on combating domestic violence.
3-days training seminars were carried out during 2007 in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Heracleion, Preveza, Kalamata, Komotini, Ioannina, and Mytilini. An outcome of the seminars also was the networking among governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in assisting and protecting victims as well as in treating the phenomenon.
In April 2008 a conference took place in Athens, during which the outcomes of the programme were presented.
Actions for combating domestic violence are also carried out by NGOs, either independently or in cooperation with and financed by the General Secretariat for Gender Equality or other state agencies.
It is important to be underlined that the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence has helped the competent agencies reinforce their struggle against domestic violence.
Though the Council of Europe Campaign is coming to an end, Greece has already started developing the new plan of action. Combating Domestic Violence already constitutes a high priority issue in the framework of the NATIONAL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT 2007-2013 within the special priority axis entitled: «Reinforcement of the gender equality policy». Certain funds, which will be invested in every single region around the country, have already been provided. Thus, the Local Government Organisations of first degree will be able to provide services of psychological and social counseling and develop safe shelters and other structures for the protection of victims of domestic violence.
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?
YES x NO q
Domestic violence (Law 3500/2006)
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
YES x NO q
According to the Greek criminal law the violence among strangers is punished in accordance with the common criminal provisions. On that era gender based violence or the abuse of power is not considered to be an aggravating circumstance.
However violence committed by a partner or former partner is punished more severely than violence among strangers.
1) SIMPLE PHYSICAL INJURY:
2) DANGEROUS PHYSICAL INJURY (article 309 Criminal Code)
Violence among strangers: 3 months to 5 years imprisonment
3) GRIEVOUS PHYSICAL INJURY (with the consequence of gravely physical or mental impairment) - (article 310 Criminal Code)
Violence among strangers: 2 years to 5 years imprisonment.
In the case the perpetrator had the intention of causing physical or mental impairment, this will be considered as an aggravating circumstance and the framework of the sentence is 5 years to 10 years imprisonment concerning violence among strangers and 5 years to 20 years imprisonment concerning domestic violence.
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
YES x NO q
According to Law 3500/2006 the victims of domestic violence are entitled to moral support and the necessary material assistance from legal entities governed by public or private law, which function especially for these purposes under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, and from social services of local governance authorities. Police authorities that look into cases of domestic violence, within the scope of their jurisdiction, are obliged, if the victim asks so, to inform both the victim and the above institutions, so as to provide immediately the necessary, in each case, assistance. Moreover, the benefit of indigence is provided to those victims of domestic violence who request the taking of insurance measures in order to temporarily arrange the situation, by reason of the specific incident, having only to produce proof to the violence incident, according to the dispositions of articles 194 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if they are in no position to pay, even temporarily, the required judicial expenses.
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
YES X NO q
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1
YES x NO q
Safe shelters are located in big cities and cover most areas of the country. In an attempt to develop support and protection structures for women victims of domestic violence in every part of the country, the new Code on Municipalities and Communities (Law 3463/2006) provides, as a new competency of the Local Government Organisations of first degree, advisory support of victims of domestic violence and violence between cohabiting persons. In the framework of the NATIONAL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT 2007-2013, certain funds are allocated to the Local Government Organisations of first degree in order to develop counseling services and safe shelters for the protection against domestic violence.
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
YES x NO q
Ministry of the Interior - General Secretariat for Gender Equality, Ministry of the Interior - Hellenic Police Headquarters/ Public Security Division,
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
YES x NO q
Note 1 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.