Violence against women by partners is one of the most common forms of violence and covers about 85% of all reported cases. Violence is one of the most difficult forms of discrimination against women and can include domestic violence, violence in intimate relationships, sexual harassment, rape, sexual violence in conflict areas, traditional forms such as forced / arranged marriages, female genital mutilation and ‘honor violence’.
According to research in Europe, 20-25% of women survived physical violence at least once during their adult life. Statistical data in several countries show that rates of physical and sexual violence from former partners greatly increase after separation, which indicates that women are not necessarily protected when they break a violent relationship.
In Serbia, according to the latest study “Mapping of domestic violence against women in Central Serbia” (M. Babovic, Ginić K., O. Vukovic, 2010), 54.2% of women in Serbia have been exposed to some form of domestic violence during their lifetime including 37.5% over the immediately preceding year. The perpetrators of violence are most often identified as current husbands or partners, and former husbands or partners.
It is therefore necessary to run programs that include all household members, both victims and perpetrators of violence, but also children as indirect victims-witnesses of violence.
Working with perpetrators of violence should not be used to prevent or delay punishment, nor should it influence the decision of women themselves whether or not to remain in the partnership. Support and assistance to the perpetrators of violence aims to prevent the recurrence of violence. It is therefore important to emphasize that the perpetrators’ acceptance of responsibility is an important aspect of such treatment.
Programs for perpetrators of violence are developed and implemented with the aims of (I) stopping violence and ensuring the long-term security of victims of violence (ii) preventing trans-generational transfers of violent models and making a permanent change in violent behavioral patterns.
Programmes for perpetrators of violence in the family and in intimate partner relationships are the mandatory aspect of leading international strategies to combat sexual and gender based violence. Ever since the Beijing Declaration, the most recent Council of Europe Convention of the Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, and other relevant international instruments, it has been deemed necessary to provide, finance and encourage work with perpetrators of domestic violence.
In Serbia, there is no specific law concerned exclusively with domestic violence and work with perpetrators is not specifically regulated by law. However, in recent years sporadic treatment for work with perpetrators has been carried out. In National Strategy for prevention and combating violence against women in the family and in intimate partner relationship, work with perpetrators emerges as one of the social services necessary to prevent further violence against women.
By introducing a systematic approach in working with perpetrators of violence in the family and establishing mechanisms for ending violence, we contribute to the achievement of the state’s long-term goals. The sustainability of such social services leads to reduced recidivism and permanent welfare for the victims of violence, as well as the development and adoption of non-violent values in society.