The impact of Europeanization on action against gender-based violence in the Balkan countries: a comparative study
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Gender-based violence remains a widespread problem, which causes physical, psychological, economic and social damage. It is a brutal violation of women’s fundamental rights and the European Union has committed significant efforts and resources combatting it not only across its territory but also beyond its boundaries. As a gender equality promoter at the international level, the EU has sought to reduce gender-based and domestic violence in the candidate countries. The candidate countries must fulfill certain criteria to become members of the EU including harmonization of legislation on gender equality. This study examines how local actors in three Balkan countries react to EU laws, norms and practices on gender equality, and specifically, EU efforts to reduce gender-based violence. The Balkan countries have a long history of violence against women rooted in patriarchal society, economic inequality, and legacy of wars. The thesis is based on interviews with nine organizations working with victims of gender-based violence in three countries – Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. Besides interviews, the analysis is based on public reports, documentation of international organizations, and reports written by independent expert groups. Through fieldwork, the researcher was able to collect the data from organizations working towards prevention and protection of women from violence. These insights allowed to make several findings. First, lack of state budget impacts implementation of legislation on the gender-based violence, including national strategies, and the provision of services provided by women NGOs, shelters, referral centers and trainings of professionals. Second, it is clear that state does not fully recognize the expertize of specialized NGOs and establishes inadequate requirements to provision of social services for victims of gender-based violence, especially in Montenegro and Serbia.
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