Increased support for gender-based violence survivors in Latvia
To alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 policies, many initiatives have been developed by civil society organisations – NGOs, local governments, or citizens. A team of national researchers from the RESISTIRÉ project has collected and highlighted a set of particularly relevant initiatives in 27 European countries and in Iceland, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The initiatives currently cover eight specific domains: gender-based violence, the labour market, the economy, gender-pay and pension gaps, gender care gaps, decision-making and politics, environmental justice, human and fundamental rights.
A step in the right direction
During the pandemic in 2020, Latvia, which hasn’t ratified the Istanbul Convention, passed a series of laws that would bring more protection to survivors. This was partly brought about because of strong campaigning and organizing of women’s rights groups, as well as a more favorable government. The measures include:
- Survivors can now apply to court without having to provide evidence and are given protection quite fast (usually within 24 hours).
- Even if the property belongs to the perpetrator, the police remove them for up to 1 month (sometimes even up to 3 months).
- Survivors can apply to any court, anywhere in the country (does not have to be the local court, which sometimes is not safe; thereby undermining perpetrators from intervening)
- Police can now send information to social services so that survivors get support (was made possible with change in the Police Law)
- Police can now initiate criminal process without the consent of the survivor
- Police can also initiate a temporary protection order without the consent of the survivor when they respond to emergency calls
Two additional measures have been taken since. In 2021, prostituted and trafficked persons can no longer be punished for their activities. Additionally, since July 2021, the courts can issue a “mandatory rehabilitation programme” for perpetrators. Perpetrators have to pay for this programme (10% of the price if they register on time, 100% if they register too late)