The kick-off meeting of the EU-funded Twinning project entitled “Strengthening the capacity of the State Bodies and local level referral mechanisms to provide safety and support to the victims of domestic violence” was held remotely on March 29, 2021. Among others, Kęstutis Jankauskas, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Azerbaijan, Egidijus Navikas, representative of the Lithuanian Embassy, Wolfgang Marchardt, representative of the Austrian Embassy as well as Twinning Project Manager Audra Mikalauskaitė from the Ministry of Social Security and Labour in Lithuania and Junior Project Leader Sabine Mandl from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Fundamental and Human Rights in Austria were present. More than 60 experts from the participating countries Azerbaijan, Lithuania and Austria were informed about the national challenges in the field of domestic violence and the goals of the project.
To ensure better support and safety to victims of domestic violence, the project aims at enhancing the legal status of monitoring groups on gender-based violence and violence against children, the legal environment for further criminalization of domestic violence and develop mechanism on legal and psychological assistance for victims. In addition, the project will develop rehabilitation programs for perpetrators and conduct trainings for police officers, judges and social workers. Journalists and social-media influencers will further be connected and sensitised to the dimensions of domestic violence to increase societal understanding about domestic violence and contribute to preventive measures in this field.
Referring to the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence adopting by Azerbaijan in 2010, Mrs. Sadagat Gahramanova, Project Leader in Azerbaijan and Deputy Chair of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children's Affairs, opened the meeting by highlighted both the progress achieved in Azerbaijan’s national legislation and the importance of its further improvement in the scope of approximation on EU standards. She especially emphasised the relevance of the topic due to the increase of domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasized the state’s responsibility to raise awareness among society. Mr. Kestutis Jankauskas then addressed the EU’s commitment to strengthen legal frameworks and institutions addressing the root causes of violence. In this regard, he highlighted the importance of ratifying the Istanbul Convention as a core future perspective.
MS Project Leader Audra Mikalauskaitė and Junior Project Leader Sabine Mandl presented the institutions involved in the project and current activities. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights will contribute to the implementation of the project especially with its expertise in the field of women's rights and gender-based violence as well as with its long experience in the implementation of Twinning projects.
In summary, the kick-off meeting introduced participants to the multiple dimensions and challenges of domestic violence in Azerbaijan and pointed out the diverse approaches of the Twinning project.
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