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Violence and Abuse

In Translation: Upending the Notion of Violence as "Normal"

The "In Translation" sidebars in the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves highlight the work of our global partners who develop health resources based on Our Bodies, Ourselves for their own communities.
 serbia cover Group: Women’s Health Promotion Center

Country: Serbia

Resource: Naša Tela, Mi, a Serbian adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves

Website: centarzdravljezena.org.rs

Domestic violence against women is a widespread problem in Serbia, due to conflict, poverty, and unemployment across the country.

Our Bodies Ourselves’ Serbian partner, Women’s Health Promotion Center, notes that reporting of violence against women remains pathetically low. This is mainly because gender-based violence is perceived as “normal,” and there is a corresponding lack of political and social will to increase awareness and track crimes against women and girls. In addition, women are often unaware of their rights and understandably lack confidence in institutions charged with protecting their well-being.

Since the early 1990s, the center has helped draw public and government attention to women’s health and make it a central part of social and health policy. Some examples: a manual and screening questionnaire on domestic violence—the first of its kind in Serbia—which is now part of routine medical evaluations in public and private health care settings; an action plan on promoting women’s health that has been incorporated into the country’s national response on gender equality; and special guidelines on protecting and assisting women exposed to violence that are now used by the Ministry of Health.

A key player in Serbia’s social movement, Women’s Health Promotion Center notes that its Serbian adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves has been pivotal to the movement’s success. The book has helped highlight violence in the community, put women’s health on the political agenda, and brought meaningful—and lasting—change to the lives of women and girls.

Excerpted from the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. © 2011, Boston Women's Health Book Collective. You can read other "In Translation" sidebars about women's groups who are adapting Our Bodies, Ourselves and creating resources to advance the health and human rights of women and girls in their countries. To read more about the Women's Health Promotion Center, click here.


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