Contributed by: Biljana Brankovic, National VAW Monitor
In Serbia, a new Family Law, which introduces protective measures for victims of domestic violence, will come into force on 1 July 2005. The national parliament adopted the Family Law on 17 February 2005 and 157 parliamentarians voted for the law, while 67 voted against it. The new law prescribes, inter alia, a removal of a perpetrator from a house or apartment, regardless of ownership right, and restraining orders. This should provide protection under Civil Law, and not only by the Penal Code of Serbia as before, while the Penal Code will still cover the criminal responsibility under Article 118a.
The new Family Law also introduces a number of novelties related to children's rights, in accordance with international standards and treaties. Adoption of the new legislation gained excessive media coverage. Hence, the general public received a "message" that family violence could no longer be treated as a private issue. Interestingly, some women's NGOs working in smaller cities in Serbia informed us that many victims put a great hope in this new law. Some even asked for a copy of the text, stating, "I know that it is not yet in force, but when it comes in effect, I want to be ready!"