The Opening of the First Sexual Assault Referral Centers

14 Јули 2018
The press-conference held in front of the General hospital building in Kumanovo

The Sexual Assault Referral Centers have been opened today in three cities – Kumanovo, Tetovo and Skopje. The main event took place at the Kumanovo general hospital in the presence of the national and local government representatives, the representatives from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the NGO’s and the media.

The Parliament ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on December 22, 2017. For the purpose of better combating and preventing the gender-based violence, with the focus on sexual gender-based violence, the state established multi-sectoral centers – The Sexual Assault Referral Centers for integrated and full response to the victims of the sexual gender-based violence.

The Centers have been opened with UNFPA and UNDP support

The Ministry of Health, in cooperation and with technical support from UNFPA, UNDP and HERA, have opened the Centers within the University Clinic for gynecology and obstetrics in Skopje as well as the general hospitals in Tetovo and Kumanovo. In all three Centers, the health workers will provide the services according the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“The country lacks even a single Center where victims of rape and other sexual assault could receive appropriate healthcare treatment and police support. Instead, those reporting sexual assault are typically made to travel to a multitude of different offices where they are forced to tell their stories over and over again“, said UN Resident Coordinator Louisa Vinton at the opening.

She added that the victims often feel humiliated, disbelieved and revictimized by this experience, as if they and not the perpetrators are the ones at fault.

The Ministries of Health, of Foreign Affairs and of Labor and Social Policy were present at the event as well. They expressed the government support in combating sexual violence. "The Centers have been opened only one year after the Government has ratified the Istanbul Convention", said the Minister of Health Venko Filipche. The Minister of Labor and Social Policy Mila Carovska emphasized that "the services are in line with international standards", and the Minister of Interior Affairs Oliver Spasovski said that the Ministry supports the opening of the Centers, and that will be open and ready for any cooperation and support.

All necessary health, psychosocial and legal enquiries will be made at one place, in the Center, in a safe and confidential environment in line with recommendations from all international institutions.

The full sexual gender-based violence response is based on inter-institutional cooperation and partnership. It is a coordinated approach in terms of adjustment with the activities and programs developed and implemented by many institutions which provide psychosocial help, law and safety enforcement (police, prosecutors and judiciary) and health, protecting the victim’s interests.

The aim is in the next several years, these multi-sectoral Centers to be established throughout the country.