From the 6th to the 8th of October the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR) organized the second study visit in the framework of the ongoing Twinning project „Strengthening the capacity of State bodies and local level referral mechanisms to provide safety and support to victims of domestic violence in Azerbaijan“. After the first study visit had taken place in Vilnius in August 2021, five representatives of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs (SCFWCA), the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsmann) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of People of the Republic of Azerbaijan have visited Vienna.
The delegation was welcomed by Michael Lysander Fremuth, scientific director of the LBI-GMR. Afterwards Sabine Mandl as project leader and Helmut Sax, both senior researchers at the LBI-GMR and experts on Women’s and Children’s Rights as well as Trafficking in Human Beings, gave a brief overview about the Austrian system of protection of women and children. The delegation then visited “NINLIL – Empowerment and Advice for Women with Disabilities”. This organisation, which is unique in Austria, provides protection and advice for women with disabilities. In particular, the “Kraftwerk” programme was introduced to the participants, offering service to women with disabilities who have been victims of sexual violence.
On the second day the “Vienna’s Women’s Shelters”, an organisation that provides shelter and advice to women and their children, who have been victims of domestic violence, introduced itself to the delegation. In the following discussion the need of cooperation between the women’s shelters and the judges, the public prosecutor’s office and the police in order to ensure effective protection for affected women was stressed. In the afternoon the delegation visited the “Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence”. In this legally recognized victim protection facility lawyers and social workers provide advice and help for victims of domestic violence in various languages throughout Austria.
On the third day of the study visit the focus laid on the work with offenders. At the Austrian Ministry of Interior (Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) an introduction to the Austrian Violence Prevention Act and its implementation was given. The organisation “NEUSTART – crime prevention centre Vienna” gave an overview of the possibilities to deal with offenders and potential offenders, e.g. the binding counselling centre for violence prevention for potential offenders which has been effective since September 2021.
Finally, the Vienna Children's and Youth Ombudsman's Office was visited: among other things, the cooperation with the Vienna Children's and Youth Welfare Service, and the possibilities and practical examples of help in case of violence against children were also discussed.
In the three days the delegation received insights into various institutions which are making efforts in the protection of victims of domestic violence. As a result the information about the legal and institutional framework in Austria brought new input to the participants. Not only for the Azerbaijani delegation, but also for the Austrian institutions the study visit was advantageous and insightful. In inspiring discussions similarities and differences of both countries were worked out. It became evident that domestic violence is not a country-specific problem, but a challenge for every society in the world.