ZAGREB, February 10, 2018 – The situation in Croatia in terms of women’s rights and violence against women is not good as the number of women killed rises every year and one woman is abused every 15 minutes, it was said in Zagreb on Saturday at a rally called “Handmaids rise for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.”
The protesters called on the government and parliament once again to ratify the Convention as a framework for improving the status of women and a tool for a more effective protection of women and girls.
“Data show that one in three women in the world will be abused during their lifetime, from the time they are little girls to the time they are elderly women, whether by their partners, families, at work, whether it is sexual blackmail, economic dependence. Today we most often suffer what we call institutional violence, which is when institutions don’t punish the abusers,” said Rada Borić, one of the organisers of the protest and executive director of the Centre for Women’s Studies.
“We are gathered here today because we want the Istanbul Convention to be ratified and the stories about gender ideologies to stop. The Istanbul Convention is a framework for improving the status of women who are victims of violence. All the conditions have been met in Croatia for the Convention to be ratified. We want to tell the government and parliament that we are not handmaids and will never be,” Borić said, adding that abusing women was not a private matter.
The protest was organised by numerous civil society organisations, women activists and citizens who joined in the fight for the ratification of the Convention to mark the annual “One Billion Rising” global campaign. It was launched in 2012 to raise awareness of violence against women and girls as one of the gravest types of human rights violations that many still condone by not speaking up against it.
This year the Zagreb protesters chose the symbolism of the dystopian book and popular TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale”, organisers said, to “show the direction in which we are being pushed by ultraconservative interest groups which have been working for several years on the abolition of mechanisms for the protection of women’s human rights.”
The protest began at noon with handmaids arriving dressed in red capes and white bonnets like the characters in “The Handmaid’s Tale”.