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Banja Luka, 2 April 2019 - In the presence of numerous officials, the promotion of a Conjoint Resource Package for the response of health and psychosocial service providers in Republika Srpska to gender-based violence, was held today in Banja Luka.

This document, the first of its kind in Republika Srpska was developed by the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in cooperation with the Governement of Republika Srpska. The purpose of this document is to internalize and set up referral mechanisms for dealing with cases of gender-based violence. It includes protocols, process standards and response packages for responding to gender-based violence in the health sector.

Gabrijela Jurela, the Deputy Representative of UNFPA in BiH, pointed out that research shows that almost every other woman (47.3% in Republika Srpska) experienced some form of gender-based violence. "This is the harsh reality and as such requires a strategic, long-term response. Violence does not happen out of nowhere. It reflects inequality between men and women and disproportionately affects women both physically and mentally; it affects them directly, but also their families and entire communities. We are very proud of the productive and very successful partnership that we have built with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Republika Srpska. Together, we are fighting gender-based violence, promoting gender equality and improving the access, availability and quality of sexual and reproductive health services, "said Ms. Jurela.

It seeks to ensure that other relevant sectors harmonize their work in a similar way, which will ultimately create the basis for horizontal networking of systems that meet the needs of those who have survived violence.

Dr Alen Šeranić, Minister of Health and Social Welfare in the Government of Republika Srpska, pointed out: "I recommend the use of all publications contained in the Conjointed Resource package for the response of health and psychosocial services providers in Republika Srpska to gender-based violence."
Gender-based violence is one of the most serious and widespread forms of human rights violations. Every third woman in the world has experienced a form of violence in her life. Therefore, resolving this problem requires a committed and coordinated response from the society.

"The Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports and the Government of Republika Srpska have been very much devoted to the regulations that treat gender-based violence for many years, and we are now in the process of amending the Law on Protection against domestic violence, which has been done by European standards. Institutions have zero tolerance towards violence and through these changes, we wanted to raise protection of the victim to a higher level and that is why we defined every domestic violence case as criminal offense. This is the most important amendment to the Law, because by applying the provisions so far, domestic violence was treated as a violation equal to loud music playing. Now, we have very clearly defined this as a criminal offense and I want to believe that the perpetrators of domestic violence will think well before they commit this crime", said Sonja Davidovic, Minister of Family, Youth and Sports in the Government of Republika Srpska.

His Excellency Matthew Field, the British ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he was pleased that the Resource package arrived to the institutions for which it is intended: "I am glad to be here today to deliver the Resource package for health sector service providers in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and The Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports of Republika Srpska. These documents will enable equal and fair access to people who have survived gender-based violence, including violence in emergency situations. Our activities on this issue will continue in the following year as well, because the issue of gender-based violence is very important to the United Kingdom. It is high time that violence survivors get the dignity and support they deserve.“

The Resource package is the result of a long-term joint project supported by the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, financed by the Government of the United Kingdom, the UN Action Fund and the Government of Canada.