Gender-based violence is widely prevalent in both public and private domains, deeply entrenched within the society and perpetuated by unequal power dynamics. We spoke with three judges from Bosnia and Herzegovina on their views on how the judiciary can tackle these problems.
“Gender-based violence is first of all a violation of human rights, primarily characterised by discrimination. It encompasses any form of violence inflicted upon individuals solely based on their gender, employing physical and psychological force, and causes physical, psychological, sexual, economic and social violence. Gender-based violence is alarmingly prevalent across both public and private domains, deeply ingrained in all facets of society and perpetuated by unequal power dynamics”, said Amela Mahić Samardžić, judge of the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
To enhance the status and safeguard the rights of women against gender-based violence, Sandra Budiša, a judge of the District Commercial Court in Banja Luka, highlights the importance of improving the criminal legal protection system.
“When delivering criminal legal sanctions, emphasis should be placed not only on general prevention but also on deterring these crimes, which are increasingly prevalent in our region. Furthermore, it is essential to raise awareness among victims and develop support mechanisms to aid them throughout the criminal proceedings. This concerted effort will contribute to better protection for victims and encourage the reporting of these criminal acts, as a significant number of such incidents go unreported. Neglecting to address these issues could potentially lead to the escalation of more dangerous criminal activities involving gender-based violence”, said Sandra Budiša, Judge of Commercial District Court in Banja Luka.
Addressing the challenges in accessing justice for victims, Dragan Vukajlović, a judge of the Basic Court in Sarajevo, underscores the need for consistent application of laws pertaining to gender-based violence.
“This entails treating all reports seriously, processing them efficiently, and imposing appropriate punishments on perpetrators. Empowering victims is another crucial aspect of the fight against this form of violence. The system should offer comprehensive support and protection to victims. This includes providing safe and easily accessible shelters, offering legal aid, psychological support, and financial assistance”, said Dragan Vukajlović, judge of the Basic Court in Sarajevo.
The second Gender Equality and the Western Balkans judicial forum, organised by the AIRE Centre with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom, aims to tackle the question of how the judiciary can address various types of gender inequalities in the Western Balkans. This high-profile event will bring together key judicial actors from region and beyond, including representatives from European Court of Human Rights, representatives from important regional judicial and other state institutions, academics, and NGOs.