Brief Summary on the Incest Trauma Center – Belgrade Results (1994 and to date)
The Incest Trauma Center – Belgrade (ITC; officially registered in 1994) is a women’s non-governmental organization, a service specialized in the Sexual Assault issue. The professionals were originally trained in the sphere of health and mental health. More details about the activities of the ITC can be downloaded at www.incesttraumacentar.org.rs and www.ijasamuztebe.org.rs . We provide psychological assistance to child and adult survivors of sexual violence and their supportive persons (7 reported cases per week; the only representative statistical data on the national level on the social problem of sexual abuse of children for the period 1994-2019, which was published annually, incorporated in several national strategies and reports for the Republic of Serbia; starting from 2020, in accordance with the new strategic plan, online counseling only). At the same time, we work as a Training Center and after 27 years of ITC activities, our diverse training programs have been attended by 12736 from 1028 GОs and NGОs (4/5 from GОs). All the ITC educational and preventative programs have been conceived and realized on the grounds of our team’s direct daily practical activities in the context of violence against women and children. Our trainers were authors and personally delivered our ed. programs accredited by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health of Serbia as well as the leader of ITC Trainers’ Team is certified in Supervision and Training skills in Child Protection by the NSPCC, UK, and holds accreditation on competency in the Training for Trainers in Child Protection issued by the NSPCC, UK. (Just two illustrations: over the period 2001-2003, in partnership with the Ministry of the Interior, we trained police officers from 11 towns, starting from public law and order, then sex offences and juvenile delinquency departments to teachers on all three levels of police schooling (effective 42 hours of work); 2005-2011, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice of RS, for the personnel of 4 penitentiary institutions in the territory of Serbia working with women and minor perpetrators of criminal offences. Educational programs of basic and advanced level (42 + 58 effective hours of work); 2004-2017, delivering 3-level trainings to the schools and kindergartens that were afterwards entering the National Network of Schools and Kindergartens against Sexual Assault which was founded by ITC. Within our identity of the Sexual Assault Prevention Center, 8,713 children and adolescents completed our 10 weeks long ”Healthy Choices for Kids“ Prevention Program for teachers, parents and kids. Besides, within ITC, the Sexual Assault Prevention Peer Team runs our Sexual Assault Prevention Club (schoolers age 12 to 18 run the Club assisted by our Volunteers mainly of age 19 to 25). Within this identity, we also ran a several surveys and collected data to identify further lines of operation. To emphasize, in period 2014-2017, ITC has been developing Co-management Model of decision making process, joint by staff and youth involved and this includes Decision-making youth structures in ITC daily practice and Youth participation in Evaluation.
In June 2001, the ITC founded and for 6 years provided focused active coordination of The Network of Trust against gender-based violence (an intervention team of trained practitioners from 15 GОs and NGОs, who in the course of their daily professional activities provide assistance to child and adult survivors to all forms of violence). The Network of Trust was 1st multi-disciplinary network in this field in Serbia. We are experienced in public campaigns and lobbying (e.g. in the period 2007 – 2011, we were implementing a nationwide campaign against sexual violence entitled “The Me Nobody Knows”, one of the specific aims of which was the introduction of the topic of Sexual Assault into the national (pre-)school curricula, syllabi and textbooks; also the Council of Europe Campaign “1 IN 5” in Serbia in the period 2012-2015). We note 1411 appearances in media.
In accordance with the ITC Strategic Plan for the period 2015-2020 (started this line of operation in 2009), our main identity is related to the Sexual Assault Prevention Center, and accordingly, some of the results have been: A) State Excellence Award ‘for special contribution to awareness-raising concerning the unacceptability of sexual and gender-based violence” (The Ministry of Social Policy of Serbia, 2010) B) Finalist in 2011 and recipient in 2012 of the award “REWARD” of the National PR Society of Serbia in the category “Communication in the non-profit sector”; note:: ITC has been the only competitor that both years created and implemented its Campaign on our own, with no hiring marketing agency; C) Appointment by the Council of Europe in Strasburg as the official national partner in the Campaign against child sexual assault for the Republic of Serbia, the Campaign entitled “ONE in FIVE”, based on the Lanzarote Convention (according to the signed agreement, in the course of the entire Campaign, 2012-2015) D) The official song “Stop the Silence!” of ITC Campaign in Serbia has been in 2012 handed over to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and it was designated as the official song of “ONE in FIVE” Campaign on European level to be used by the member-states E) In April 2013, the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia adopted ITC Initiative FOR the rescinding og the Statute of Limitations concerning sex offences committed against children. In this way, Serbia became second country in Europe, after UK, where the Law recognizes long-term effects of sexual trauma (comparing with earlier regulation when child sexual abuse offender could be prosecuted only six years after the last incident of sexual abuse occurred). Now, the survivor was provided the right to report and start up a criminal procedure when gaining psychic strength and social power necessary to act as a more equal participant in prosecution. ITC officially initiated and worked intensively toward this historical change of legislation F) In 2014, ITC staff wrote up themselves and with associates from schools provided numerous resources for learning on Sexual Assault issue in the classroom within the national (pre-)school curriculum and relevant textbooks (incl. opening 1st Sexual Assault Peer Prevention Club that has been with its program activities also put at disposal of the Ministry of Education of Serbia and its Violence Prevention Unit). We continued designing ed. resources in coming year. G) In 2015, ITC has been the owner, leader and author of the 1st National Study in Serbia on Prevalence and Incidence of Childhood Sexual Assault that we nowadays carry out directly in the field (in 97 primary and secondary schools) in co-operation with the Ministry of Education of Serbia and the Women’s Health Promotion Center from Belgrade, supported by the Delegation of EU to Serbia. The Preliminary Report published in June 2015 and the Final Report in October 2015, followed by a new 3D ed. resource for children, youth, parents and teachers www.ijasamuztebe.org.rs („I am here for you, too!“). Meanwhile, we worked parallel as the member of the Task-force of the Parliament of Serbia (Child Rights Committee in charge now to propose improvements in Family Law in chapters concerning Child Abuse) as well as co-operated with the Gender Equality Co-ordination Body of the Government of Serbia where we had contributed to the Action Plan 2015 with actions concerning introduction of Child Sexual Assault issue into the national school curriculum for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and also provided contribution to the Draft of new Gender Equality Law. In 2015, by being the subject of two Public Hearings in the Parliament of Serbia, the Sexual Assault issue has reached its highest point ever concerning its visibility on a public agenda. In September 2015, in partnership with the Women’s Parliamentary Network, we presented results of the National Study in the Parliament. Then in 11 towns in Serbia ITC led the Public Discussion together with the Ministry of Education in order to Draft the Strategy in Education for Prevention of Child Sexual Assault in the Republic of Serbia and we included both school students and adults from different sectors. Based on the results of 1st National Study and Public Discussion, on November 18 (The European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Abuse), again with the Women’s Parliamentary Network, the Ministry of Education and the Republic Ombuds office, we presented the Strategy at the Public Hearing in the Parliament of Serbia. Authors’ team that wrote up the Strategy in Education was consisted of the Ministry of Education (Violence Prevention Unit / Group for the Protection against Violence and Discrimination) and the Incest Trauma Center – Belgrade and the Strategy was adopted by the Ministry of Education. Immediately afterwards, we submitted to the Parliament ITC Initiative on Prevention of Retraumatization within Criminal Prosecution concerning Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault (requesting Monitoring role of the Parliament regarding protection legislative measures in accordance with the Lanzarote Convention). In February 2016, the Initiative was presented to members of the Parliament in co-operation with the Ombuds office and its Child Rights Division that wrote up the legal formulation of the Initiative. Our work on this Initiative has still been underway.
In period 2016 – March 2017, we run the National Campaign called „I AM HERE FOR YOU, TOO!“ and, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and selected school personnel pool, wrote up Educational Packs for kindergarten and 10 subjects that belong to the national curriculum of primary and secondary schools. 24 authors from Education field received „Thank You“ Certificate signed by the Minister of Education. On November 18, 2016 in this way the Sexual Assault issue was – after 9 years of advocacy and lobbying of ITC – officially introduced into the national (pre)school curriculum to be learnt by children, youth and parents within a regular life of kindergartens and schools. The high-level profile ceremony we held in the Ceremonial Hall of the Rectorate of the Belgrade University and both the Parliament of Serbia, the Ministry of Education and the Republic Ombuds contributed to this Promotion Day, e.g. having as keynote speakers Chair of Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality, co-ordinators of the Women Parliamentary Network and Deputy Ombuds for the Rights of the Child and Gender Equality. The Ministry of Education issued the Guidelines on Usage of Educational Packs and together with ITC its representatives made a journey throughout Serbia to teach kindergartens and schools how to use Educational packs. 5 months later, suddenly, the pressure occured through social networks by clerical and ultra-right wing forces that are active in Serbia and the Minister of Education announced in media only he would withdraw Educational Packs for that moment. No official public letter on the withdrawal was ever issued by the Ministry. Colleagues employed in educational institutions regularly inform us they use the Educational Packs in their work.
Directress of ITC was named the 2016 World of Children Protection Award Honoree and received the Award in the city of New York in October 2016, therefore the Incest Trauma Center – Belgrade now stand together with some of the world’s best child advocates. This was the first year of the Protection Award for individuals who recorded and continue to record extraordinary achievements in helping children be safe and free. The media in US often refer to World of Children Award as the Nobel Prize for child advocacy. We received the Congratulation Letter also by the Parliament of Serbia.
In 2017, with support of the Delegation of EC: 1. we founded and handed over to the Ministry of Education the National Network of Schools and Kindergartens against Sexual Assault, so that this network became their ownership and 2. we founded and started co-ordinating the Regional Network against Sexual Assault gathering women’s NGOs with long-term experience in this field aiming to strengthen networking in the Western Balkan and connect this territory with international professional community.
Starting from March 2017 and to date, ITC has been a Country CAN Partner of The International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (An ISPCAN Country CAN Partner), the largest professional organization in the world concerned with the Child Abuse and Neglect issue.
Both in March 2016 and March 2017, ITC was nominated for The With and For Girls Award. It is an initiative of the With and For Girls Collective which is a group of eight funders: EMpower, Mama Cash, NoVo Foundation, Plan UK, The Global Fund for Children, Nike Foundation, Comic Relief and Stars Foundation who aim to identify and recognize strong grassroots organizations working WITH and FOR girls through their annual Awards. The procedure allows nominations could be made only by trusted referral partners because the Nominee has demonstrated effective practice in creating a supportive and empowering environment for girls.
In May 2017, Directress of ITC was named the 2017 Fulbright Award for Professional Excellence in 2017. The Award “Leader“ was established in the aim of affirming excellence in development of science and research, advancing profession and promoting positive social changes. Directoress of ITC received the Fulbright Award “for professional accomplishments and contribution to positive social changes reached during 2016 in the field of direct service provision to child sexual assault survivors and the work on prevention of violence against children through educational programmes“.
In March 2018, ITC received the FEMINIST RECOGNITION FOR THE ACT OF RESISTENCE IN PUBLIC DOMAIN „for the work on creating Educational Packs for learning on CSA issue and the act of resistence against veto on implementation of Educational Packs.“ The Feminist Recognition awarded by the BeFem, Serbia.
Together with the Founding Team of 1st Regional Network against Sexual Assault, ITC has been continuing actively to contribute to the Network development, therefore by having 13 organizations from 10 European countries in membership, this shape of Network’s self-organizing outgrew regional character. Therefore, in 2019 we contributed to the efforts of the Founding Team to formalize the Network’s status and respond to its real developmental level, therefore nowadays it operates as a registered legal entity under the name of the European Women’s Network against Sexual Violence (EWNASV www.reactagainstsexualviolence.org www.facebook.com/europeanwomensnetwork www.instagram.com/react_against_sexual_violence). EWNASV held its 1st International Conference against Sexual Violence in September 2019 in Belgrade which was evaluated highly by its participants. Directress of ITC presently serves as the President of EWNASV in its 2 years long mandate and President of ITC acts in capacity of the Governing Board member for the same period.
Following our newest Strategic Plan, which started in 2020, ITC in future – through participation in EWNASV – shifts its activities mainly to the Western Balkan and European level and works intensively to strengthen ties among EWNASV members to international professional community and to integrate newcomers with high performance quality in the field of Sexual Violence.
In March 2020, ITC drafted the Advocacy and Lobbying Pack (213 p.) to obtain support of relevant stakeholders from international community to assist the return of systemic implementation of the Educational Packs to the national curricula of the kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. In spite of withdrawal of the Educational Packs, perpetrated by the minister of education in May 2017 after the negative campaign via social networks by clerical and ultra-right forces – along 3 years a large number of colleagues employed in Education informed ITC that they use Educational Packs regularly in their work with children and parents. The Advocacy and Lobbying Pack is EVIDENCE-BASED DOCUMENT arising from evidence collected through 3 years long monitoring of ITC (2017-2019.) in primary and secondary schools on the territory of Serbia regarding the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention. The findings showed that it was neccesary to start again officially, sistemically, implement the Educational Packs in daily life of kindergartens and schools.
In May 2020, ITC joined EWNASV member-organizations in drafting the Contribution to the UN SRVAW Thematic Report on Rape.
In March 2021, ITC and EWNASV publish the findings of 1st Survey on Social Position, Experiences and Strengths of Women Human Rights Defenders active in the Field of Sexual Violence in Europe, supported by the Reconstruction Women’s Fund which has been an authentic ally to us for longer than 15 years.
All activities of the Incest Trauma Center – Belgrade continue within the European Women’s Network against Sexual Violence.