Lithuanian Final Report on National Campaign action carried out within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence
Elimination of violence against women continues to be one of the long-term priorities of gender equality policy in Lithuania. The Government of the Republic of Lithuania established for the first time this long term priority in the Programme of the Advancement of Women in 1996. Concrete measures aimed at elimination of violence have been implemented since 2003 in the context of the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, whereas women non-governmental organisations projects aimed at elimination of violence against women are supported by the State budget since 2004.
The Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence was a strong encouragement to strengthen and develop activities to combat violence against women. On 22 December 2006 the Government of Lithuania endorsed The National Strategy for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Action Plan for 2007−2009. The objectives of the strategy are defined until 2015 and its implementation plans are prepared once every three years. The objectives and tasks of the strategy correspond to the objectives and tasks of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women. In this way objectives, main activities, target groups, concrete measures of the National Campaign against Violence have been established and expected results foreseen.
The main objective was to reduce, on the national level, domestic violence against women in a consistent, comprehensive and systematic way. The priorities include improvement of legal framework, prevention of domestic violence against women, complex support and assistance to victims of domestic violence, sanctions against perpetrators, education and information of society, public awareness raising, improvement of data collection and building of institutional capacities.
Legal and policy measures
One of the main objectives is improvement of legal framework for the elimination of violence against women. Several concrete measures of the Action Plan 2007−2009 are being implemented for that purpose. In 2007, a comprehensive analysis of legislation as regards violence against women was carried out. A working group, consisting of law enforcement and police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, women non-governmental organizations and gender scientists, analyzed the main Codes in force (Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure, Administrative Code), and the Laws of concern, and identified gaps of legal regulation and problems related to the application of provisions of legal acts. The working group had quite a number of discussions about problems related to the restraining of perpetrator from the family and the issue of private prosecution in regards to domestic violence against women. A draft amendment of relative articles of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been prepared. It mainly concerns the improvement of the effectiveness of the procedure of restraining of the perpetrator from the aggrieved family as well as other improvements. Now this draft is being considered by interested stakeholders, including women non-governmental organizations.
A number of European countries have specialized legislation to protect women from violence. Therefore, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania has established a working group, which has prepared a draft Concept on the Protection from Violence which is aimed at creating of preconditions for a future draft Law on Protection from Domestic Violence. On 9 April, the Government of Lithuania approved the draft Concept and submitted it to the Seimas (Parliament).
Support and protection for victims
Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women fostered the support for victims of violence that covers the provision of safe temporary accommodation, medical aid, psychological and legal consultations, intermediation, information, representation, and other necessary social services. In addition to that, the State provides free legal support for women victims of domestic violence. In terms of services, necessary assistance and especially financial resources increased even 6 times.
One of the most effective ways of immediate support for women victims of violence is specialized consultations and assistance by telephone. The Klaipėda Centre of Psychological and Social Assistance for Women Victims of Violence has been providing free phone assistance, specialized consultations and information since 2003. The Campaign to Combat Violence against Women encourages to pay more attention to the development of free phone assistance. In 2007 the number of support services was enhanced along with the accessibility and territorial coverage. The financing allocated to combat violence against women was increased by five times. The extent of free phone assistance increases annually. In 2005, 5021 consultations were provided, in 2006 - 7000 consultations, and in 2007 over 7300 consultations.
In order to provide support for women victims of violence, it is essential to have qualified and highly skilled professionals of various fields, and even more – police and law enforcement employees should be more gender sensitive. Thus one of the most important targets of the Campaign are trainings and seminars for officers and professionals of their capacity building. In 2007, 57 seminars on legal education for employees of crisis centres, municipalities, administrative units, municipal and regional police commissariats and offices of public prosecutors on legal questions, gender issues and support to victims of violence were organized. Law enforcement authorities, police, lawyers and have also actively joined the Campaign. ystematic trainings on prevention of domestic violence for police officers have been launched. Special practical methodical recommendations on how to work with victims of domestic violence and their relatives how to properly consult them on the phone have been arranged for crisis centre employees and volunteers.
Furthermore, the efficiency of the support for women victims of violence depends on the effective cooperation of institutions. Thus we seek to ensure constructive cooperation and coordination of action of law enforcement authorities, women non-governmental organisations and institutions providing social, legal, medical support for victims.
In the course of the Campaign special attention is paid to the support of the activities of women non-governmental organizations seeking to eliminate violence against women. In 2007, activities of 13 women organizations working in the field of elimination of violence against women were supported by the State budget and in 2008 already 19 women non-governmental organizations were supported. Up to 400 thousand litas from the State budget are allocated to women’s organizations annually. Women organizations engage volunteers and organize trainings and workshops. Participants, including volunteers, acquire information, knowledge and skills of work with women victims of violence and knowledge on their consulting.
Currently, more than a half of 60 Lithuanian municipalities provide complex assistance for women victims of violence, many regions have crisis centres of women non-governmental organisations providing flexible and easily accessible assistance. In 2007, 20 projects aimed at complex support for women victims of violence were financed by the state budget, and in 2008 – 29 projects. In 2007 more than 1800 women victims of violence received complex assistance. The state budget annually allocates 500 thousand litas for that purpose. In addition, the provisions of the new EU Structural Funds Programming Document for 2007-2013 provide for preconditions to support the further development of the infrastructure of the elimination of violence against women.
Effective elimination of violence against women is not possible without measures taken against perpetrators, including alternative sanctions. In 2007 6 projects aimed at work with perpetrators seeking to stop their violent behaviour were supported and in 2008 – 9 such projects. In 2007 152 perpetrators seeking to stop their violent behavior received individual and group consultations and trainings on non-violent communication and were encouraged to perceive the feeling of responsibility for their violent behavior
This year methodology on how to change violent behavior is to be prepared. This methodology will help to enhance professional competence of social workers, ensure timely and effective consultations for perpetrators committing violence against family members and relatives. It will also ensure the elimination of domestic violence as well as the complex assistance for people facing violence within their families.
The Department of Statistics has been collecting data provided by the IT and Communications Department under the Ministry of the Interior about registered persons (women and men) who are victims of crimes. Since 1997 statistical data is annually published in the yearbook “Women and Men in Lithuania". This data is also published on the website of the Department of Statistics (www.stat.gov.lt) in pre-defined tables, whereas the database presents statistical data about criminality and penal justice.
In 2003 the system of statistical data collection and analysis has been improved by introducing the card of a crime victim. In this way analytical description of women and children as well as collection of statistical data about violence against women have been improved.
The introduction of the above mentioned statistical card essentially improved the analytical definition of women who have fallen victims to violence and the collection of statistical data about violence against women.
In 2007 the data collection system has been substantially renewed. Since 1 January 2007 the Police Department under the Ministry of the Interior has launched the collection and systematisation of data about violence against women in accordance with the following indicators:
1. The number of telephone calls related to domestic violence.
2. The number of investigations of applications and complaints about domestic violence and violence against women.
The number of withdrawals of applications to launch a pre-trial investigation related to domestic violence against women.
4. The number of pre-trial investigations related to domestic violence against women (in accordance with separate Articles of the Penal Code).
5. The number of records of administrative violations produced in compliance with Article 181 of the Code of Administrative Law Violations (about violations as regards domestic violence).
6. The number of records of administrative violations of law produced in compliance with other articles of the Code of Administrative Law Violations (about violations as regards domestic violence).
The first comprehensive victimological research called Violence against Women was implemented in Lithuania in 1997-1998. In 2002, the association Women’s Issues Information Centre implemented a complex research aimed to evaluate public opinion about violence against women, to analyse and evaluate the prevalence of domestic violence against women by various forms of violence, the status of a victim and a perpetrator, condition of victims of domestic violence and make a comparative analysis.
This year new victimological research has been launched. The research is aimed to make overall estimation of the situation of violence against women, number of Lithuanian women and men experiencing domestic violence, analyse and compare the most frequent forms of domestic violence experienced by women and men and other forms of domestic violence and their prevalence, reasons of violence against women as well as public awareness about legal and other assistance possibilities. A comparative and qualitative analysis of the research data of 1997 and 2002 will be implemented. The research will cover men and women of different social status, areas of residence (village, town), age groups. The respondents will be chosen from all Lithuanian territories, and the data will be segregated by sex. The results if the research will also allow to evaluate the impact of the national campaign.
A scientific research aimed at estimating the efficiency of measures taken in order to support women who have fallen victims to domestic violence and the activities of governmental and non-governmental institutions is planned for 2009. It will also pay a great deal of attention to the evaluation of the attitude of domestic violence victims towards the assistance provided and the provision of recommendations and proposals for further actions.
Prevention of violence against women is one of the most important priorities of the Campaign. Awareness raising and information campaigns, seminars, conferences, trainings and other activities were arranged in the framework of the Campaign. Logo and slogan “Violence – don’t be indifferent” of the Campaign has been created. The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence and the Handbook for Parliamentarians were translated from the English language into Lithuanian and distributed.
One of the most attractive elements of the information campaign was social action. In order to unite the efforts of governmental institutions, municipalities, districts, non-governmental organisations and to draw public attention to the relevance of the problem of domestic violence against women, a social action has been launched. The main goal of social action was to draw public attention to the problem of domestic violence in Lithuania and to contribute to elimination of violence against women. During this action the trucks carried social advertising posters encouraging women victims of violence to speak up and seek for assistance in relevant organizations. The trucks circulated across the cities delivering goods to smaller network shops, thus the posters were seen by a large number of people.
In the course of Campaign 2000 posters and 5000 leaflets, encouraging women suffering from violence to break silence and search for assistance, have been produced. They were distributed to employees of all crisis centres of all municipalities, cities and regions.
Participation and involvement of journalists, radio, TV and other representatives of mass media is crucial for an awareness raising campaign. Therefore, seminars for representatives of mass media were periodically organized to discuss problems of violence against women, especially domestic violence, role of mass media in prevention and combating violence. During all the campaign every month press releases were published both in the biggest newspapers and regional press. Lithuanian National Radio and Television broadcasted a video of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women. Several discussions on legal aspects of combating violence, protection and support to victims, roots of violence were held on TV and radio.
Women's Issues Information Centre (WIIC) organized a public action “Stay aware violence against women exists”. The aim of the action was to spread information about organizations working in the field and the assistance they are providing. WIIC volunteers were spreading information as well as giving legal consultations on the spot. On 7 December the première and discussion of the movie “Violence Against Women in Lithuania” was organized. The movie is talking about a very sensitive problem of violence against women in Lithuania: approach latter-day situation, reveal possible reasons of this social problem also offer some solutions.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) Conference The Solutions to the Problem of Domestic Violence against Women in Lithuania was held in Vilnius on 22 November 2007. During this conference the ways to solve the problem of violence against women were discussed between representatives of state institutions, municipalities, lawyer, police, women’s crisis centres and others women’s NGO’s. Posters of women crisis centres, booklets, leaflets and markers were demonstrated and distributed at the conference. The conference attracted a great deal of attention from the media. All the information about it was also published on the website of the Information and Support Centre of Non-Governmental Organisations, in the information bulletin Trečiasis Sektorius, in the news system Visuomenei.lt, on the website of Kontrastai and in other information sources.
National Plans of Action
On 22 December 2006 the Government of the Republic of Lithuania adopted The National Strategy for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Action Plan for 2007−2009. The goals and objectives of the strategy correspond to the goals and objectives of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, thus forming and establishing objectives, main course of activities, target groups, concrete measures and expected results of the National Campaign against Violence.
The main objective of the strategy is to reduce, on the national level, domestic violence against women in a consistent, comprehensive and systematic way. The priorities of the strategy include improvement of legal framework, prevention of domestic violence against women, provision of comprehensive aid to victims of domestic violence; sanctions against abusers, education and information of society, public awareness raising, improvement of data collection, building of institutional capacities.
The implementation of this strategy will last until 2015. 3 action plans of this Strategy will be implemented every three years. Action plans define concrete measures, deadlines and financial resources of responsible ministries, law enforcement institutions and organisations. A number of measures will be implemented in cooperation with women non-governmental organisations. Over LTL 1 million will be allocated annually for the implementation of these measures.
The first action plan covers the period of 2007-2009. The measures are aimed to improve the legislation, to strengthen prevention of domestic violence against women, to improve complex assistance to victims of domestic violence, analysis of domestic violence against women, penalties and sanctions for perpetrators and building of institutional capacities.
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?
Penal Code criminalises almost every act of physical or sexual violence against any person. However, criminal persecution of some less serious offences depends on condition that there is a complaint from a victim or her legal representative. On the other hand, prosecutor has a right (and an obligation) to require criminal persecution even without complaint from a victim, where such offence has social impact or where a victim cannot effectively defend her due to serious reasons.
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)?
Penal Code does not make difference in qualifying such offences. However it is up to court to take account of factual circumstances of each case when deciding on penalty.
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)?
About specialisation – there is a specialisation for family and juvenile matters within police, prosecutors office and judiciary (specialized judges) .
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
YES X NO q