Dramatic Increase in Murders of Women in Domestic Violence in Bulgaria

Opinions | February 5, 2019, Tuesday // 12:45|  views

In the last three years, murders of women committed by spouses, partners and close relatives have increased by 50 percent. In 2016, they are 22, a year later they are already 27, and 33 women were killed last year. This shows the Ministry of Interior statistics provided to Mediapool under the Access to Public Information Act. The data is frightening because every third murder in Bulgaria is a woman in her home. The murderer is among her closest people.

The most common motive is jealousy. This is the reason why more than half of the women's murders in 2018. In the same year, 28 women were severely injured or disabled as a result of domestic violence.

These are 61 women a year, whose lives are taken away or altered forever at will by violent aggressors from their closest people. These statistics do not include rape, harassment, and beatings, whose victims have overcome without serious physical injuries.

Everything is revealed

The Interior Ministry considers all murders and serious bodily injuries to women as a result of domestic violence. Investigators have shown over the years that they have the capability of detecting serious personal assault on a household basis. Six of the men who killed a spouse already have been convicted. 

Despite the severe punishment for murder, the high disclosure and the quick pronouncement of the court, domestic violence is increasingly fatal. Not only for women. In 2018, four of the assailants committed suicide, which increased the number of people dead after a case of domestic violence to 37 people. Two of the assailants have been identified as irreconcilable.

The intentional killings in the country for the past year are about 100, according to Mediapool. This means that every third intentional murder is the result of domestic violence. The reason for every fifth is jealousy. The final data of the interior ministry on intentional killings are not yet public.

However, the trend of the increase in these serious injuries is obvious.

In 2016, in addition to the 22 killed women, there were 33 other women severely injured and disabled in domestic violence. Investigators have been able to convict 12 offenders, five are irreconcilable and can not be sued, and one has committed suicide. Jealousy is the cause of 17 offenses.

In total, 79 intentional murders were registered in Bulgaria in 2016. The account shows that the murders of women from their relatives account for 28% of all intentional killings in the country.

In 2017, women killed in domestic violence account for about 30% of all victims of intentional murder in the country. A total of 34 women have been diagnosed with severe and moderate bodily injuries. So far, 15 of the attackers have been convicted, and one has died. Jealousy is the cause of 15 intrusions.

The progressive increase in serious injuries against women and high disclosure show that the problem is not the lack of penalties. A large number of cases finally lead to a conviction, which is generally over 10 years in prison.

Killing the woman at home will be somewhat different

In November last year, the Parliament adopted at first reading large-scale changes to the Penal Code, which should address the problem of violence against women. The aim is to create new criminal groups that explicitly state that the assault is committed "in a situation of domestic violence". Patron of the amendment was the chairman of the parliament Tsveta Karayancheva (GERB).

It is proposed that a murder committed "in a condition of domestic violence" be punished by at least 15 years imprisonment. Now the killing minimum is 10 years in prison. In most of the cases of female murders, they qualify as more serious cases (premeditated, in relapse, with extreme cruelty, etc.) and the penalties start again from 15 years in prison. The text does not change the situation.

GERB introduces domestic violence as a special category and in serious bodily harm, kidnapping, coercion, and murder. This is also not a revolution in the judiciary, nor is a particular preventive role expected.

Exercise of psychological violence will be punished by up to one year in prison or probation, which is a serious change in the law, but it also leads to disputes. How is psychological violence proven and will it not lead to extortion in the family? It is also a novelty to introduce a special body for psychological harassment, which can lead to 5 years in prison.

GERB motivates the change in the NC with the unofficial statistics, which shows that every fourth woman in Bulgaria has been the victim of violence. According to the government, the law will show that the state is not indifferent to this problem. The proposed solution is punitive repression, which should have a preventative role.

The Mediapool study strongly suggests that effective criminal repression exists now, but it does not reduce the casualties. On the contrary, their number grows every year. The obvious answer is due to the educational, health and social system, not to the MoI and the criminal courts.

Saved lives

For the last three years could the authorities save the lives of at least seven women if they had established the intolerance of their perpetrators in time and not during the criminal case after the fatal outcome. If the health and social authorities had the capacity to take action, these people would not be killers now, but they would try to re-socialize. However, the psychiatric care system is in decline due to a lack of funding.

The education system also does not address the problem in any way, even though the government itself recognizes that every fourth woman, sooner or later, becomes a victim of violence. The education system in no way attempts to address explicit vices in the social environment.

The level is low

The debate over the changes in the National Assembly showed that it is very difficult for the Bulgarian parliament to fall lower.

Dimitar Stoyanov (BSP) explained from the Parliamentary Tribune that sometimes "the victim is looking for abuse". The same MP even said: "Very often neighbors can hear that there is a scandal in the family, but in the evenings the relationships are smooth."

Tsveta Karayancheva (GERB) gave examples of harassment by leaving roses in the car. Pavel Shopov (Ataka) accused people with not traditional sexual orientation and the moral decline of the nation, as if at the time of the Bulgarian Communist Party the Bulgarians did not have problems with domestic violence.

Valeriy Zhablyanov (BSP) explained that in the Bulgarian mentality the father is set to be a central figure in the family and the domestic violence is also provoked by "socially degrading conditions of life in Bulgaria, by the initial inequality between the two sexes, by the unemployment and the misery at home, of children who can not buy elementary school supplies. "

Zhablyanov's "social" explanation of domestic violence faces the facts. In the last three years the average wage in the country has increased by more than 200 leva, unemployment has fallen to record low levels, the population is decreasing, but the murders of women are increasing.

Education

The obvious answer to the problem of violence against women in Bulgaria is education, which can lead to a slow but significant change in the mass attitudes. This is not just about campaigns, but should be the result of consistent efforts, including institutional ones, to eliminate the perception in society that violence against a women is acceptable.

Earlier last year, governments refused to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which obliges states to take measures to eradicate domestic violence from an early age. In Bulgaria there was a frenzied debate inspired by VMRO and BSP with false allegations of legalization of same-sex marriage, third sex, invasion of Iranian transvestites, threats against "Bulgarian values" and so on.

GERB declined to take political responsibility and transferred the Convention to the Constitutional Court, which came up with a "dignified" level of political debate. Thus the international document was rejected as unconstitutional. The CC has been lost in English translation and has announced that the term gender in the Istanbul Convention contravenes the constitution and blurs the boundaries between male and female sex.

The proposed amendments to the Penal Code are an attempt to compensate the rejected convention, but practically do nothing to compensate. The Bulgarian authorities are once again throwing in the pursuit of the cheapest and most meaningless measures, refusing to push the levers that can change something.

This material originally appeared on Mediapool. 


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