Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Bulgaria. Since the country's First Universal Periodic Review in 2010, the Bulgarian government has made notable steps in combating gender-based violence by regularly conducting public awareness campaigns designed to educate the public regarding the prevalence of gender-based violence, as well as the protective measures available to its victims. However, there are still areas of improvement needed to protect women from gender-based violence.
On March 16, 2005, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence (LPADV), creating a civil remedy for victims of domestic violence by allowing them to petition the regional court for protection. While the LPADV provides an important civil remedy, it offers no criminal prosecution except where the offender violates the order for protection.
Furthermore, criminal prosecution of domestic violence offenders is fraught with barriers. Article 161(1) of the Criminal Code hinders victims of domestic violence from obtaining justice because it requires that a victim, who suffers a trivial- or middle-level injury, navigate through the criminal justice system alone. Article 161(1) denies victims of domestic violence equal and effective access to the criminal justice system, equal protection before the law, and does not provide an effective remedy for harm they have suffered.
The stakeholder report makes recommendations regarding amendments to the Criminal Code and LPADV, improving the coordinated community response, promoting policies, and strengthening support and funding for NGOs.
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