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Children who witness domestic violence are not only witnesses, they are also victims

Children who witness domestic violence against their mothers are not only witnesses, they are also direct or indirect victims. Violence against children and violence against women are interconnected. To date, the coordination of efforts to combat these forms of violence remains fragmented and insufficient. The findings were presented at a forum organized by the National Agency for Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, IPN reports.

The Agency’s director Viorica Țâmbalari said that all the specialists working to protect the women and children must have a common approach. “We often see in the Republic of Moldova enough cases in which we separate, perhaps unconsciously, these two aspects, focusing either on the mother or on the child, and we do not see the complexity of the problem – mother-couple-child. That’s why, on the initiative of our partners, we accepted to be part of this event to see how together we can find the right solutions and create complex, high-quality programs for women and our children,” stated Viorica Țâmbalari.

Present at the event, Minister of Labor and Social Protection Alexei Buzu said that the problem of violence is primarily related to the patriarchal stereotypes that still persist. “We need a very well organized, very strong beast-like system that can deal with extremely difficult problems, such as child poverty, violence against children and women. Only a well-developed and hyper-efficient system can cope with such problems. This is our commitment. We will organize ourselves. We will have good tools and we will be the best so as to be able to deal with these problems in a real way,” noted the minister.

The forum entitled “Understanding and addressing the intersectionality between violence against children and violence against women in the Republic of Moldova” was organized in partnership with UNICEF Moldova and the National Coalition “Life without Violence”, with the financial support of the European Union. “In the Republic of Moldova, data show that no less than 2 out of 5 children have been subjected to violence. The figures are similar for women – 2 out of 5 women or girls have been subjected to physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. These equal proportions should come as no surprise to anyone who knows that these forms of violence co-exist in the same environment, whether we are talking about a household, community or larger societal structures. And many types of harmful behavior, at least those that take place at home, also have similar bases, such as socioeconomic disparities. That’s why there is a need for coordinated services,” said UNICEF Moldova Country Representative Maha Damaj.

“From all the research, we see that the highest degree of violence is in women who have children. Things must be looked at from a broad perspective. Likewise, we started from the perspective – what is the status of the child – is he/she a witness or a victim? We know that the Istanbul Convention says that the child is not a witness, but is a victim in the first place. And if we correctly decide the status, this fact changes the entire approach to working further with these children,” said Veronica Teleucă, coordinator of the National Coalition “Life without Violence”.

The participants in the forum noted that addressing violence against women and violence against children can transform the landscape of violence and make a greater contribution to breaking the cycle of violence in the lives of women, children and adolescents.

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