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Desk research: Good practice examples of specialized services for survivors of sexual abuse

Introduction:

With aim to identify good practice examples within specialized services for survivors of sexual abuse in Montenegro, we reached 3 of 5 contacted women NGO services in our country.

We contacted an organization that run helpline for sexual violence and didn’t received response.

We will present the example cases by: 1) SOS Centre Niksic, 2) Women’s Rights Center, 3) Center for Roma Initiative and 4) Women’s Safe House.

 

Case of SOS Centre for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic

 

In 2019, National SOS Helpline (run by SOS Centre Niksic) and Police showed good example of cooperation and support in a case of sexual abuse 

In this case, a victim of sexual violence was an underage girl, abused by an underage cousin.

A close female family member reported a suspicion to the National Helpline that the girl is being sexually abused based on witnessed behavioral changes. The family member was given information and was supported by the National helpline to report suspicions of abuse to police. The Helpline consultant offered help to walk her through the process and let her know what to expect. The consultant contacted a responsible police officer, forwarded him the allegation about the victims and abuse, and then referred the member of family to the police officer.  The police officer understood the circumstances and acted urgently. The police officer initiated multiagency response and invited Centre for Social Care to be involved. Communication and coordination among the National Helpline and Police officer was timely and professional. The Helpline and Police officer encouraged the family member to proceed reporting of the abuse and make her feel safe and protected.

In this case, the cooperation of the National Helpline and Police officials was timely, professional, what greatly contributed to investigation process.

 

Case of WOMEN’S RIGHTS CENTER

In 2020, NGO Women’s Rights Center reflects on a case of an underage girl. Where the Police, Prosecutor Office and Center for Social Care have acted in accordance with the national Protocol and Istanbul Convention. The perpetrator was immediately detained and is still in custody. The criminal court proceedings are ongoing. In this case, Women’s Rights Center provides psychological support to the girl. The Centre emphasizes this as the unique example of good response by the state institutions.

 

Case of Centre for Roma Initiative

 

A family member reported an underage Roma girl is being sexually abused by adult man,

who is a member of majority population.  WNGO Center for Roma Initiatives provided

support and advocacy on behalf of the girl during investigation of the case.

According the NGO allegation, even if the sexual abuse of a child is criminal offence in

our country, state institutions responsible for investigation and protection of victims didn’t contributed enough. During all stages of the process, Centre for Roma Initiatives had a role of confidant and monitored the process. During investigation the cconfidant supported the girl and provided translation. It concerns that law enforcement authorities decided that there is no basis for criminal prosecution of the case. The Centre was left with no notification from the prosecution and other relevant law enforcement institutions on the case outcomes.

 

Case  of Women Safe House

In May 2020, a mother reported to NGO Women Safe House that underage daughter is being abused by an adult family friend in the course of 5 yrs .

Consultants of WSH made initial interview and then an individual plan for support to the girl. Even if corona time was out there, the girl was provided with direct emotional support. The girl has been strongly supported by her father too, who took proactive role and seek  emotional and psychological support for her.

At the same time, the sexual abuse still continues. The abuser use different manipulation and intimidation techniques what harm her badly (she became shy, lost and upset, she did not spend time with her friends and schoolmates, she could not study).

Confidant from WSH demended the girl shouldnt be interviewed by police , but once  in prosecutor office.. The confident had succeeded and the girl have been interviewed once in a screen room, where the statement was recoreded by prosecutor.

During different stages of the process NGO Women Safe House provided following services to the girl:  initial counselling, help and support, confidant service, advocacy before state institutions, referrals to psychological treatment.

The mother of the girls was provided with support, information about institutional procedures, counseling, and support of parental role in the traumatic experience.

The case ended up by the State Prosecution decision to reject the case, due to lack of elements of crime.

 

Statistics

Table: Number of reported cases to NGOs

Organization

 

period Number of reported cases to organization: Source:
National SOS Helpline   (which is led by our organisation  SOS Centre Niksic ) 2020. 16 (2 underage) Data of SOS Niksic
Women’s  Safe House 2020. 22 Data of Women’s Safe House
Women’s Rights Center  2020.  2 Data of Women’s Rights Center
National SOS Helpline   (which is led by our organisation  SOS Centre Niksic ) 2019. 22 (women and underage girls) Data of SOS Niksic
Women’s Rights Center  2019. 5 Data of Women’s Rights Center
National SOS Helpline   (which is led by our organisation  SOS Centre Niksic ) 2018. 31 (women and  underage girls) Data of SOS Niksic
Women’s Rights Center  2018. 3 Data of Women’s Rights Center
Women’s Rights Center  2017. 3 Data of Women’s Rights Center

 

-According to Study on Sexual Violence and Response in Montenegro, which was done last year by Safe House and SOS Centre Niksic about 33, 3 percent of interviewed believe that there are specialised support services for support to survivors of sexual violence and 26,67 percent of interviewed don’t know if there are any specialized services for survivors of sexual abuse.

-According to research of WNGOs (Women’s Safe House and SOS hotline Niksic)[1], conducted between 100 survivors of sexual violence (89 women and 11 girls):

  • 65 % of women were sexually abused by their partners;
  • only 12 % (7 women) reported the violence;
  • 82 women asked Sos Niksic and WSH for help;
  • 5 of 11 cases where survivors are underage girls were reported to institutions;
  • 24 of 100 interviewed survivors resided in shelters of SOS Niksic and WSH;
  • 32 women and girls had psychological support and counseling by SOS Niksic and WSH.

According to data of Ministry of Justice, in the period between Janury, 2013 – March, 2018, 36 final judgements rendered in cases of child sexual abuse (94% were sentenced to prison, others got warning measures)[2].

 

 

 

[1] Avaliable on the following link: http://szk.org.me/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Studija-o-seksualnom-nasilju-nad-%C5%BEenama-i-djecom-u-Crnoj-Gori-web.pdf

[2] TV attachment which contains statement from official of  Ministry of justice (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONTisGdRrDY&t=17s)

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