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Lithuania: State protection for female victims of domestic violence (1999-August 2000)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 25 August 2000
Citation / Document Symbol LTU35305.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lithuania: State protection for female victims of domestic violence (1999-August 2000), 25 August 2000, LTU35305.E, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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.

Several sources provide comments on the magnitude of domestic violence in Lithuania. For example, referring to spousal abuse, Country Reports 1999 described it as "reportedly common", in particular associated with alcoholism (25 Feb. 2000). Lilija Vasiliauskiene, the director of the Vilnius Women's Centre, stated that "physical and psychological violence against women in Lithuanian families is widespread" (Baltic News Service 28 Jan. 2000). She further said that women experience physical and psychological violence in every third family (ibid.). According to International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF-HR), there were more than 1,000 cases of domestic violence in 1999 in Lithuania (1 June 2000, 248).

In the same year, the police responded to 48,356 calls to intervene in family conflicts (ibid.). Out of 11,409 cases of domestic violence which were investigated, 2.1 per cent were "solved". Unless a case of domestic violence turns into a "tragedy", it tends not to be reported or brought before a judge (ibid.). Speaking on how to address domestic violence in Lithuania, the IHF-HR notes that there is a need for cooperation between the state and NGOs in the following fields:

· legal and moral education;

· the psychological rehabilitation of the victims;

· victim-offender negotiation (ibid.).

In Lithuanian Human Development Report 1999, Giedrė Purvaneckienė stated:

Lithuanian laws, especially those that regulate criminal trials, are not disposed to overcoming violence toward women. There is no way to protect the victims of domestic violence. In the face of pressure from others, many victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse often change their testimonies or decide not to press charges against their assailants. There are not enough shelters for the victims of violence. There are no institutions or specialists to whom victims can be directed for treatment (United Nations in Lithuania, 122).

Giedrė Purvaneckienė also made references to several initiatives taken by the Lithuanian authorities to address the issue of violence against women. For example, shelters have been established by city authorities in Vilnius and Vievis, and by the municipal police department in Šiauliai (ibid.). Lodging shelters were opened in Vilnius and Klaipėda by the city authorities and by the municipal police department in Panevėžys (ibid.). In Šiauliai and in Panevezys, the municipal police departments founded "consultation centres" (ibid.). Throughout Lithuania, 40 telephone trust lines created by municipal police departments are operating (ibid.).

The Director of Vilnius Women's House described Lithuania's legal and law-enforcement systems as "very complex" (Contemporary Women's Issues Feb. 1999). She added that women victims of violence were finding it difficult to initiate legal proceedings to seek redress (ibid.). In this regard, she also referred to "hostile police officers" without mentioning the extent to which this behaviour is common (ibid.).

On 28 January 2000, the Seimas (parliament) parliamentary women's group, the Vilnius Women's Centre and the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry held a seminar on "Violence against Women, Prevention of this Crime: Working with Violators" at the Lithuanian Parliament (Baltic News Service 28 Jan. 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate 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. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Baltic News Service. 28 January 2000. "Violence Against Women in Lithuanian Families Widespread." (NEXIS)

Contemporary Women's Issues. February 2000. Gurcharan Virdee. "Families-Heaven or Hell-The Faces of Domestic Violence." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 25 February 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC.

[Accessed 24 Aug. 2000]

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF-HR) [Vienna]. 1 June 2000. Human Rights in the OSCE Region: The Balkans, the Caucasus, Europe. Central Asia, North America, Report 2000.

[Accessed 24 Aug. 2000]

United Nations in Lithuania. 1999. Lithuanian Human Development Report 1999.

[Accessed 24 Aug. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Unsuccessful attempts to contact two oral sources.

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International (AI)

Aviva. Free monthly listings of women's groups & events worldwide.

The British Helsinki Human Rights Groups (BHHRG)

Council of Europe (CoE)

Freedom in the World 1999-2000-08-24

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

The Soros Foundations Network

Women's Human Rights Resources, University of Toronto

World News Connection (WNC)

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 Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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