Bulgaria – CEDAW–Violence against Women–September 2017

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation and the Alliance for Protection from Gender-Based Violence, submitted a suggested list of issues for Bulgaria for the 70th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Bulgaria has taken some steps toward combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children since its last review, but harmful stereotypes and sexist images still normalize violence against women. In 2015, the government passed the Equality between Men and Women bill which addresses gender-based violence. Despite the law’s prohibition against gender-based violence, authorities still ineffectively investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases. The law also fails to address forced marriage, marital rape, and other forms of gender-based violence.

Victims of domestic violence also have limited resources. The Ministry of Justice allocates funds in each annual budget for the prevention of and protection against domestic violence, but those funds have been insufficient to meet the needs of service providers. As a result, the burden of the provision of services falls onto Non-governmental Organizations.

The Advocates compiled a list of questions the Committee should consider during its review of Bulgaria, and made several recommendations to overcome barriers to protecting victims of domestic violence and to hold perpetrators accountable.