On 12 June, the ninth meeting of the Commission for Coordination of Interaction between Executive Authorities on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men was held chaired by Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna and attended by First Lady Olena Zelenska.
During the meeting, representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, the Prosecutor General’s Office, ministries and other government agencies, international and non-governmental organisations presented the results of their work to prevent and combat domestic violence in times of war, and agreed on further steps to provide comprehensive support to citizens to prevent such violence in families.
“The aggressor’s violence against our country is not a reason to forget about domestic violence in society. In our families, in our streets, in our homes. It has not gone away. Because the level of anxiety disorders in society is growing. Where in times of peace an argument would have ended in a quarrel, there can be a fight and even death,” First Lady Olena Zelenska said.
For her part, Olha Stefanishyna noted that constant stress, anger, loss of housing, jobs, and family separation contributed to increased tension and mistrust in families, which could escalate into domestic violence. She emphasised the importance of the state’s proactive role in minimising the risks of such cases increasing in the coming years: “The number of domestic violence complaints increased by 39.8% in the first five months of 2023 compared to the same period last year. This is to some extent a natural consequence of the ongoing full-scale war. Therefore, we need to work together to develop a comprehensive strategy to help citizens and their families so that they have the resources to cope with the trauma and consequences of the war. Essentially, we are talking about adapting the experience of recent years to the conditions and challenges of a full-scale war.”
The Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the need for comprehensive training programmes for trainers to work with whole families, as well as the importance of gender sensitivity in the work of law enforcement agencies with victims.
She stressed the importance of taking into account the experience and capacity of existing support services when implementing new initiatives to prevent and respond to domestic violence.
Oksana Zholnovych, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, briefed participants on the implementation of the state subvention for the creation of such specialised support services for victims of domestic violence, noting that one of the main priorities for the use of the subvention at present was to increase the efficiency of existing services and to rebuild those that had been destroyed as a result of the war.
Olha Stefanishyna also stressed that comprehensive support should be aimed at raising public awareness of the causes of violence and methods of preventing it, including conflict-free communication in families and practices to reduce levels of aggression.
To this end, the Commission presented proposals for an awareness-raising campaign that would promote healthy relationships in families and support not only victims but also those who might become potential perpetrators.
Special attention was paid to the work of the social project of the President of Ukraine and the Ministry of Youth and Sports “Active Parks – Locations of Healthy Ukraine”, which offered free recreational activities in parks.
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Matviy Bidnyi stressed the importance of involving as many citizens as possible in various types of sports activities as an effective way to reduce stress levels as a risk factor for violence.
The meeting agreed on the need to amend the legislation and a number of regulations on preventing and combating domestic violence, including:
“Because overcoming violence is not only the violence that has been punished, but also the violence that did not happen in the first place, the violence that we prevented. I ask you to become such preventers in your place,” Olena Zelenska urged the Commission members.