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Bulgaria: Current information on the situation of women, especially in relation to domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 March 1996
Citation / Document Symbol BGR23667.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bulgaria: Current information on the situation of women, especially in relation to domestic violence, 1 March 1996, BGR23667.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad1a78.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to the attached 23-page report entitled Domestic Violence in Bulgaria,

     Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive problem in Bulgaria. A woman's fundamental right to be free from violence is not protected at any phase of the legal process. Police do not respond appropriately to the problem. Bulgarian law expressly discriminates against victims of domestic assault. The law exempts from state prosecution certain types of assault if committed by a family member, although the state prosecutes the same act if committed by a stranger. The state does not assist in prosecuting crimes of domestic assault unless the woman has been killed or permanently injured. ... The courts do not take seriously their obligation to punish perpetrators of violence against women in the home. In addition, the government does not provide any social services to victims of domestic assault nor does it attempt in any way to prevent these crimes from occurring (MAHR Mar. 1996, 3).

Country Reports 1995 reports that discrimination and violence against women are "serious problems" in Bulgaria:

marital rape is a crime but rarely prosecuted. Courts and prosecutors tend to view domestic abuse as a family rather that criminal problem, and in most cases victims of domestic violence take refuge with family or friends rather than approach the authorities. No government agencies provide shelter or counselling for such persons (1996, np).

Sources report that instances of domestic violence, spousal abuse and rape frequently go unreported because of the stigma attached (MAHR Mar. 1996, 5; Xinhua 15 Aug. 1995; Country Reports 1995 1996, np) Reports one source, "women are silenced by social and cultural norms and endure violence and cruelty in their homes" (MAHR Mar. 1996, 5). The president of the Bulgarian Association of Women in the Legal Profession, who is cited in the MAHR report, states that "violence against women is widespread in Bulgaria but it is not a custom to discuss that fact and emphasize it. There are no statistics on the problem ... It is simply not reported" (Mar. 1996, 6).

Citing Bulgarian "official statistics", an August 1995 Xinhua report maintains that "offenses against women have increased by 66 percent in the last four years" (15 Aug. 1995). The report notes that these "official figures only include complaints lodged with police" (ibid.).

A 1993 article on the conditions of women in eastern Europe maintained that "nothing like a tendency toward the emancipation of women is observable in Bulgaria. We cannot even define the process as aimed at improving women's situation or promoting rights" (Petrova 1993, 261). Despite this, however, an August 1995 article reports that "where women had no voice three years ago, there is now a small but growing cadre of Romanian and Bulgarian women who are documenting the violence that women experience and pressuring their justice systems to address it" (Star Tribune 30 Aug. 1995).

For information on the economic obstacles facing Bulgarian women and on discrimination against women in the workplace, please see the attached UNICEF report and Country Reports 1995.

     This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995. March 1996. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. (Electronic version received from Resource Information Center, US Immigration and Naturalization Service)

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR). March 1996. Domestic Violence in Bulgaria. Minneapolis, Minn: MAHR.

Petrova, Dimitrina. 1993. "Can Cinderella Become a Citizen?," Cinderella Goes to the

     Market. Edited by Barbara Einhorn. London: Verso.

Star Tribune [Minneapolis, Minn]. 30 August 1995. Metro Edition. Kathleen Graham. "Gone to China-Here's Why; Women's Conference is Only the Stopover; the Real Destination is Equality." (NEXIS)

The Xinhua News Agency. 15 August 1995. "Bulgarian Women Victims of Increasing Crime." (NEXIS)

Attachments

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995. March 1996. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. (Electronic version received from Resource Information Center, US Immigration and Naturalization Service)

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR). March 1996. Domestic Violence in Bulgaria. Minneapolis, Minn: MAHR, pp. 1-23.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). October 1994. Women and Gender in Countries in Transition: A UNICEF Perspective. New York: Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States, pp. 45-51.

The Xinhua News Agency. 15 August 1995. "Bulgarian Women Victims of Increasing

Crime."(NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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