Women across Bosnia held demonstrations over the weekend to demand legislative action against femicide.
The demonstrations were held on the back of widespread outrage over the strangulation and murder of a 32 year old woman on 11 October. The woman was allegedly killed by her husband in the town of Bihac, northwestern Bosnia.
According to police, the woman’s husband was found hanged on 13 October, his cause of death cited as suicide.
Dozens of demonstrators turned out in Sarajevo, calling on authorities to introduce femicide into legislation, and make it a criminal offense.
Femicide is defined as a hate crime against women, motivated by the victim’s gender and generally founded on a sense of gender superiority.
The demonstrators, largely made up of women, also called on the government to harmonize criminal laws with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention.
The Women’s Network of BiH, a non-government organization, also took part in the demonstration in Sarajevo to demand action from the government.
“We women must be loud and speak on behalf of all those murdered women,” said Selma Hadzihalilovic, a representative of the Women’s Network of BiH.
“We owe them at least that, and we also owe it to all women who are exposed to any risk of being killed. We want to scream [away] that silence, so the cry would be as loud as possible,” she continued.
A representative of the non-government group Women’s Voice, Enisa Rakovic, said that Bosnian women would no longer be silent on the issue of femicide.
“We, the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina, have united to raise our voices and ask the decision-makers to change the legislation, to include femicide in the law and to apply the Istanbul Convention, which has been signed but is not being applied,” Rakovic declared at the demonstration in Sarajevo.
According to figures from the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 60 women have been murdered by their husbands since 2015. Those cases, however, have been prosecuted as murders due to femicide not being recognised under Bosnian law.
The agency also found that every third woman in Bosnia is a victim of violence, and that half of women over the age of 15 have experienced a form of economic, psychological or physical abuse.
At the same time, national and regional lockdowns during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to skyrocketing rates of femicide and domestic violence across the world.
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