N 4, 2002

Regional campaign on protection of women rights on life without violence

Galina Kalinaeva
Secretary of national working group of Information Campaign UNIFEM

Everybody who follows the publications of magazine "Woman Plus" knows the development of the campaign in the regions of Russia and how selflessly different organizations, participating in UNIFEM program, work in all directions of the program.

The campaign is dedicated to the home violence since it is the most widely spread and the least studied type of violence and cruel approach towards individuals in the world.

The object of the campaign "Life without violence is our right" is to assist the people to improve their knowledge of the problem of violence against women, in considering it as a crime and violation of human rights, in perception of its social and economic consequences, in realization of its causes and manifestations. The campaign is aimed at turning down the family violence and sexual solicitation on the working places.

Investigations, made during the campaign in the CIS countries, showed how little people know of the home violence as of serious social problem and of its consequences to the society.

At the same time it is not enough to know this global problem, its cause and effect and manifestations. We should have quite effective instruments to solve it.

The results of the investigation in Russia are published and placed on Web site www.owl.ru; Tatiana Zabelina, who headed the investigation in question, dedicated an article on this subject.

What particular qualities can be featured in this campaign?

The world we live in changes drastically and very quickly and the last dramatic events prove that people did not learn to come to an agreement using peaceful means, by means of persuasion. I believe that discussing this subject we should pay our attention to two dates: September 11, 2001 and October 23, 2002. The first date was on the eve of the campaign. The second one was on the first anniversary of the campaign beginning.

Evidently it is worth thinking where the terrorists and violators come from. If we do not discuss this subject and find effective forms of violence prophylactics, the state will continue to consider and solve problems of home violence without any spirit. Having written it I can clearly hear the voices of my opponents: "You devote yourself to the home violence? Well, go on with it, but serious problems will be discussed by serious people". Who are this people? It is well known - they are our wonderful, all-knowing and omniscient men - the final truth bearers; but the lot of women non- governmental organizations is to deal with women, family and home problems. But where do those who organized these horrible acts of terrorism grow up and where are they brought up? Do they see in their families only peaceful process of pursuing or defending family members' own interests? How do children establish and keep the relations in kinder-gardens and schools? The investigation answered to many questions.

On the eve of campaign beginning the world shuddered from barbarian acts of terrorism of the 11-th of September. This date became a new stage in relations between countries. On the first hand, the country leaders united against international terrorism. On the other hand, the events revealed that even very powerful countries, possessing very powerful weapons, are not secured against such terrible threat as international terrorism since the followers of the latter, along with conventional weapons, can use not only civil planes but bacteriological weapon - the one, which no country in the world ever ventured to use.

When we set about the campaign "Life without violence is our right" we could not help thinking about it and could not isolate ourselves only in the problem of home violence in the society. This problem needs a detailed discussion since, on the one hand, it is very many-sided, and, on the other hand, it is hidden from the society to a certain degree: it is not usual to talk about it "aloud", in public, though the consequences are quite inhuman and go far beyond family problems.

Relations, based on violence, destroy the family. Then the chain reaction follows. Violence gives birth to violence. Victim of violence, defending itself, as well causes violence. Children, who witness all this, in the end have many chances to become as cruel as their fathers do or as intimidated as their mothers. Children of violators can become as well violators. It's a vicious circle!

We can see the same picture in the society. The society based on violence gives birth to violence, which, in the end, destroys the society itself. A "weak", in order to fight with evil, very often uses the methods of terror. If such political "breed" as extremism is added to it then the "international terrorism" is very close.

We have to make sense of and to conceive the events of October 23, 2002. Women-terrorists-kamikaze

The campaign proposes a wide specter of subjects, forms and methods of work. Among its participants there are such organizations as Woman's information network of Independent Woman's Forum; Karelsky Center of gender research; "Podruga" (Tula); "Angara" (Irkutsk and Irkutsky Region); "Femina' (Naberezhnie Chelny, Republic of Tatarstan); PROON Center of Administration for Women and the Woman's Chamber (Republic of Komi); "Artemida" (Republic of Buriatya) - this is not a complete list of organizations and regions taking part in the campaign.

Judging from the beginning of the campaign, from its development during the year and from the celebration of the UN Day - October 24, 2002 - in Irkutsk and Syktyvkar, Moscow and Ulan-Ude, in Petrozavodsk it's possible to say that all participants of the campaign very thoroughly think over forms and methods of work to be not ordinary ones and to make people remember them and to begin to think of their attitude to their most close people.

Specialists from social service, representatives from the institutions of power, public organizations and law enforcement institutions, body of active functionaries from towns and districts, students from high educational institutions and colleges were recruited to take part in the campaign.

Monitoring, correction of the campaign development, discussion of information, acquired during the campaign or during the investigation were carried out and new schemes of cooperation with interested structures or departments were proposed on a quarterly basis. It was arranged so that everyone, who according to the calls from his heart or according to his duties, should put himself a question: what is to be done so that violence go away from our life? For every violator to realize that he will be punished and that the punishment should really become inevitable, for every victim to be sure that she will receive help, that she is not alone face to face with her misfortune, that she and her children are under protection of law, state and society.

The local population is rendered practical assistance. In the PROON Center of Administration for Women and the Woman's Chamber of the Republic of Komi a special social legal service is created where everyday a social lawyer carries out reception of population on the questions of home violence, advise on different cases, accompanies clients during the inquest. In the Republic of Buriatya the woman's public organization "Artemida" created a network of social legal service. Consistent work on this subject with Ministry of Internal Affaires of the Republic of Buriatya (RB), Ministry of Labor and Social Development of RB and Ministry of Health of RB produced positive results. Deputy Chairman of RB Government on social questions and Minister of Health of RB declared in public that they were ready to work on problem of home violence. They proposed to discuss on interdepartmental level the work with families from the groups of risk, which were registered in police books as families suffering of home violence; the number of these families amounted to 3,500.

At present the Republican conference "Public consciousness and violence" is under preparation.

In all the regions the campaign participants made a lot in order to make the acting legislation work and to switch on all possible mechanisms of violence prophylactics. The main thing is to understand that one, even very important, law cannot solve the problem - the society should feel the acute necessity to pass this law. To the anniversary of the campaign the Regional office prepared and published the book "Practical guide on legislation measures to prevent home violence" (composed on the basis of results of the conference "Reverberation of home violence problem in the legislation of the CIS and Baltic countries").

It is scheduled that presentation and discussion of above-mentioned book will be organized during the forthcoming action "16 days of action against violence"; the participants of the campaign can learn how this problem is solved in the legislation of other countries.

The success of the informational educational campaign in the regions was achieved due to the fact that its organizers could interest journalists of the local mass media to take part in it and to cooperate with them the year round. In Tula, Republic of Komi, Irkutsk, Republic of Karelia all information on problem of violence towards women, available with the organizers, was submitted to the journalists; they received invitations to attend all actions, which were public, striking and interested the readers and audience. Information on campaign and materials on its development are published in the central and local press, which is very important. During the campaign more than 100 publications were published in republican and local mass media, the films on home violence with live discussion were shown on TV.

In the contest of mini-grants, carried out during the campaign, the Russian non-governmental organization "Dialogue" become one of the winners since it prepared and broadcast 26 radio programs on home violence prophylactics (interviews, talks with campaign organizers, psychologists, lawyers, specialists of crisis centers); the programs were broadcast on Federal channels "Mayak", "Voice of Russia" and Moscow channel "Govorit Moskva". Its listeners are from Russia, CIS and East Europe countries. Thanks to organizers the regional radio companies also paid attention to the problem of home violence. They got a lot of response and comments from radio listeners, who requested them to broadcast similar programs as many as possible.

Placards, calendars, leaflets, brochures, thematic publications, booklets, posters, logotypes were published during the campaign. The campaign included education programs, seminars, and training, out complex seminars, contests and exhibitions in towns and districts of the regions, which took part in the campaign.

A more detailed information on the results of the Baikal forum is under preparation and will be published by the Woman's Union "Angara"; the forum included three sections on the main subjects of the campaign and was attended by leaders and heads from all regions involved.

On the eve of the UN Day and during the UN Day - on October 24 - there were actions in all the regions of the campaign. I believe that any of them deserves a separate story, but the most interesting and well-organized action, in my opinion, took place in Syktyvkar Center of National Cultures. It was dedicated to public discussion of violence towards women. "You should begin with yourself" - that was the leitmotif of the discussion, organized by the PROON Center of Administration for Women and the KRO DZhR Woman's Chamber. Uncommon form of "public discussion" on violence, proposed by the organizers, preparatory work, carried out in the educational institutions by the members of working group, - all above mentioned achieved the goal and attracted attention of the young audience. More than 100 students from high educational institutions and colleges of the town participated in the action; representatives of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, Center of legal and psychiatric expertise, psychologists and specialists of social service appeared as experts.

According to Elena Petunina, head of social information service of the PROON Center of Administration for Women, "vivid appearance of the hall with placards, bearing the campaign name and logo, stands, dedicated to campaign development in the Republic, exhibition of school compositions "How to build a world without violence" and drawings "To the world free of violence" - all above mentioned allowed to get necessary information and clear idea of violence problem. In addition, at the entrance all the participants of discussion received from the students-volunteers, dressed in sports shirts with campaign logo on it, voting cards of different colors to express their personal view, test cards, 3 information leaflets and program of the action "16 days of action against violence", scheduled to be carried out in December.

Flashy data of Russian statistics and results of investigation, made in the Republic, presented in the form of theatre performance, strong impression of two documentary films of the series "Private case with Alexandra Marinina" created atmosphere of openness and many participants told their cases and stories of real life. The organizers put such questions as "Did you meet with problem of violence?" and "Is it necessary to discuss the violence problem in public?" and the auditorium would be colored with either green or red voting cards. Experts expressed their opinions and made comments on the situation in the Republic. They quoted real facts and possible ways out to solve the problem, citing their own cases and experience.

The main objects of the public discussion were achieved: the organizers succeeded in drawing out the participants for open discussion on such unordinary subject and managed to enlist support of new followers of the campaign - support of students; the majority of them are future lawyers and journalists and for the first time they were not only observers but active participants.

At the end everybody could express his attitude to the problem of violence stamping his palm on the placard "Down with violence" - thus symbolically joining the slogan. But it was an open finale, the second stage of informational educational campaign is waiting for us along with the next year of work for the sake of life without violence".