New Reports Shows High Costs of Violence Against Women

A movement to improve social awareness and prevention of violence against women has led to several new reports on domestic violence in Serbia.  The Autonomous Women’s Center has assessed the costs of violence against women for the nation.  While a lack of data prevented the NGO from accounting for administrative costs such as communications and transportation in their research, the figures include costs of police enforcement, the judiciary, and social and health care services. The assessment reports that domestic violence cost the Serbian government between 204.8-535.9 million RSD (2.2-5.7 million Euro) in 2009.

The Autonomous Women’s Center cautions that these estimates are “the tip of the iceberg,” and do not include the costs undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in developing and implementing policies designed to prevent violence against women. The costs of shelters, which often carry a large part of the financial burden of domestic violence, are also not included. International analysis shows that costs to the government represent only a small portion of the true costs of violence; victims, their families and employers, and NGOs pay a majority of the total costs. Analysis conducted with the assumption that a woman who is a victim of violence has only been a victim once puts the annual budget costs of institutional response at 21.8-137.8 billion RSD (231.8-1,462 million Euro), a sum that represents 0.8%-4.9% of the nation’s GDP in 2009.

While such a high cost shows the seriousness of the problem of violence against women, it still does not include the costs paid by the victims, or the more difficult to measure costs to society, such as emotional suffering and lost profits. The report’s authors attempted to calculate these hidden costs based on previous research that showed that state response accounts for about 10% of the total societal costs of violence against women. Under these calculations, the costs to Serbian society in 2009 were between 1.6 and 4.1 billion RSD (16.8-43.9 million Euro).

Furthermore, the report states that victims of violence still face many hurdles to reporting violence and seeking state services, which shifts the costs of violence solely to victims, their families, and non-state service providers. The report’s authors urged the government of Serbia to prioritize investment in prevention of violence against women and a more coordinated institutional approach to domestic violence.

From:   Autonomous Women’s Center, The Cost of Domestic Violence Against Women: Economic Aspects of Domestic Violence against Women in Serbia (PDF 3 pages).