Croatia Initiates Robust Measures to Combat Violence Against Women
Croatia is taking bold steps to address the issue of violence against women, marking a significant shift in its legal framework. The country is set to recognise femicide as a distinct crime within its criminal code, a move that remains relatively uncommon across Europe.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic unveiled a groundbreaking bill on September 13, emphasising that these changes represent the most comprehensive and potentially the most impactful measures to combat violence against women and children in Croatia. He asserted that these proposed measures underscore the government’s unwavering commitment to combatting violence against women, aligning with the nation’s core values.
The government’s suggested amendments to existing legislation were made available for public consultation on September 15, with an envisioned implementation date of January 2024.
Under this new legislation, Croatia will incorporate femicide as a standalone offence in its criminal code, carrying a prison sentence that begins at 10 years and could extend further. Concurrently, the country plans to heighten penalties for rapists, with prison terms escalating from a range of 1 to 5 years to a range of 3 to 8 years. The most severe cases will result in prison sentences ranging from 5 to 12 years, an increase from the previous range of 3 to 10 years.
The forthcoming Criminal Procedure Act will also empower victims of rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse, intimidation, or any form of gender-based violence in legal proceedings against their perpetrators. Courts will be mandated to consider a woman’s safety concerns when issuing restraining orders, ensuring a more comprehensive approach to victim protection. Furthermore, victims will be informed about the release of their abusers, promoting transparency and safety.
The United Nations defines femicide as the intentional killing of women and girls because of their gender. The agency reports that most femicides are perpetrated by men, often individuals with close relationships with the victims, such as family members, partners, or former partners.
In 2021, Croatia witnessed the tragic deaths of 14 women, with 11 of them falling victim to femicide at the hands of their partners. Considering Croatia’s population stood at approximately 3.8 million in 2021, these figures are a grave cause for concern.