[New Delhi, 8 March 2014] Engage with men to address violence against women, says the vice president of the European Women’s Lobby
“Do not pacify women with flowers once a year on International Women’s Day, but engage with them at all times,” says Rada Boric, Vice-President of the European Women’s Lobby who is in India as the Guest of Honour for the U.N. Women and European Union National Conference on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment to be held on Monday.
Ms Boric, listed by Forbes as one of the world’s seven most powerful feminists, is widely known for her work with Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian rape survivors of the Bosnian war. One of the architects of the Centre for Women War Victims in Croatia, known for the assistance it gave to victims of war to seek refuge and begin healing, she says rape survivors do not merely need help; it is also about support and the domino effect it can have. “The idea was to create groups in which women support each other. The refugees in Croatia received only basics from the administration, so we put together one local person with one refugee, shared information, helped them get documents, but most of all worked on their grief. Sharing their grief made all the difference,” she said pointing out that in conflict situations crimes against women are brushed aside as ‘collateral damage,’ ‘necessary targets’ where raping women is a way to get even with the male enemy.
Currently director at the Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb, Croatia, the passionate women’s rights activist feels that cases of violence against women are increasingly coming into public knowledge even in Europe as they are in India. She attributes this to increased reporting by women, more protocols and mechanisms, effective sensitisation, and a friendly media. However, she feels a lot more needs to be done in every sphere of women’s empowerment.