Over 200 legal consultations to women victims of domestic violence have been provided by lawyers registered in the National Register of Legal Aid in the districts of Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo and Varna in the last two years.
Some of the victims have already been granted restraining orders by the court not to be approached by the abuser, others have been placed in crisis centres and are pursuing custody cases with the help of lawyers. This was reported by the National Legal Aid Bureau (NLAB) on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
A total of 40 lawyers, together with Roma mediators, are touring the remote settlements and Roma neighbourhoods in the three districts to shorten the distance with people who need to defend their rights but do not know how.
The mobile groups were formed by the NLAB in implementation of a project funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.
“It is not rare that victims do not perceive as violence, but as a form of deserved punishment for their abuse. One of our important goals is to teach people to recognize violence, to know their rights and to seek protection,” said the project’s leader, lawyer Dilyana Giteva.
This is the reason for organizing trainings in local schools, in which the Roma mediators working on the project actively participate.
“The National Legal Aid Bureau organized meetings with local institutions in Stara Zagora, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo this year, resulting in the creation of a pilot coordination mechanism for the protection of victims of gender-based crimes. In this way, the activities of the Bar Association, the Ministry of Interior, the Court, the Prosecutor’s Office and the social services against domestic violence were synchronized,” informed Natalia Ilieva, Chairperson of the NLAB. One of the goals is that every report of domestic violence, no matter where it is filed, should also be sent to the Legal Aid Bureau, which should appoint a lawyer to go on the spot and advise the victim.
By a decision of the NLAB of 29 June this year, all lawyers working in the regional counselling centres of the bar associations can also provide counselling to victims of domestic violence outside the centres, on the spot in the district police departments, crisis centres or other institutions.