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After criticism: Chancellor announces more funds for protection against violence

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After the ninth woman died last week, presumably as a result of the violence of a partner or ex-partner, the turquoise-green government sees a need for action and therefore agreed on a package on Monday that primarily affects the work of the security authorities: prevention officers in each Police inspections, detailed motivational research after acts of violence and more case conferences are to be carried out in the future. Women's and Family Minister Susanne Raab, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (both ÖVP) and Justice Minister Alma Zadić (Greens) discussed this with the nine state police directors and state criminal investigation officers.

Criticism from the practical area

Victim and violence protection organizations - they were not invited to the summit - criticize the result of the deliberations. They are demanding 228 million euros annually - that would be 15 times the current budget - for the expansion and longer-term security of their work. In addition, 3,000 new jobs would have to be created in victim protection.

Maria Rösslhumer from the Association of Autonomous Austrian Women's Shelters also criticized the lack of budget. It is good that individual points have been taken up, but the protection of affected children has been completely excluded, for example. It is also a shame that no personal protection is planned for affected women.

In short: "Money won't fail"

After Women's Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) announced further talks on the expansion of resources on Tuesday morning, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said a few hours later on the sidelines of a press conference: "Money will not fail." If more funds are needed, the government will use them. "The financial questions will be resolved," said Kurz.

Rosa Logar from the Association of Vienna Intervention Center Against Family Violence calculates how the lack of budget affects daily work: A supervisor in her association is responsible for 310 victims. More than short-term help is therefore not possible.

Alexander Ortner, who quit his job in a violence protection center because of the limited time, describes how difficult it is for the counselors to provide care with limited resources: "Every year he has personally advised over 150 victims of violence and on interrogations, court hearings, perpetrator constructions, offenses and so on further accompanied. It is estimated that another 200 victims of violence will be advised by telephone. " And hundreds of pages of injunctions written. "If there was a (trauma) therapeutic need, it was only possible to refer to non-existent cash registers. For other topics such as work, health, financial livelihoods as well as other facilities that often had waiting times themselves," Ortner writes on Twitter.

Minister for Women holds out the prospect of further measures

Protection against violence is broadly based in Austria. "It is important to me to emphasize that no woman is sent away," said Minister Raab when asked about the thin staffing levels. On the issue of resources one will work together with the victim protection agencies, there are further discussions about the budget. "But more has happened in recent years than ever before, because the budget has almost been doubled," emphasizes Raab. A large part of the 14.65 million euros women's budget went into victim protection.

However: it is not nearly doubling. In 2019 the budget was 10.25 million euros. After the interview, the minister received criticism on Twitter for the budget information - she apologized for the slip of the tongue in the morning. The budget has been increased by almost 50 percent.

A closer look at the numbers also prompted many to compare how high expenditure is in other areas - for example, that 73 million euros were spent on advertisements and PR in 2020.

Money is not the only issue for Raab

Raab emphasizes that the resources are not the only question: "Are we reaching the women? Do they take advantage of the offers of help?" Every woman needs to know that she is not alone and that there are places of refuge, which is why new information campaigns are being worked on.

Raab cannot understand the criticism of the expansion of motivational research - the killings of women in the past ten years are to be evaluated: "You have to look at how such escalations of violence occur at the end of the day. If there were evictions, the police did Are there psychological disorders, alcohol or drug abuse and, yes, are there patriarchal cultures of honor that we do not want in Austria, an image of women that does not correspond to our values? " When it comes to violence, it takes the full harshness of the law. That is why improvements in the cooperation between the judiciary and the police are important.

What motivational research can bring

In fact, with motivational research, the government is responding to a longstanding request in the field of crime research. Neither the statistical recording nor the collection and evaluation of information in the investigations have so far met the requirements of the Istanbul Convention, says Isabel Haider, researcher at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Vienna. The Istanbul Convention is the "Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence" - Austria has signed.

The collection of information in Austria is not very formalized, is strongly related to individual cases and does not pay enough attention to gender-related aspects of violence, says the legal scholar. Instead of scientific knowledge, assessments are based more on the experience of security officers - which ultimately means great differences in quality in the assessment.

Motivation research is important to clarify whether there is gender-based violence against women. According to the Istanbul Convention, this is the case when gender is the main motive for the act. In the case of domestic violence in particular, supposed interpersonal motives are often not questioned in terms of their gender, says Haider, while other motives - such as life insurance - do. Motives with a gender reference would be those that supposedly only relate to the individual woman and thus not all women per se, but are in truth caused by gender-related role ascriptions.

Praise for expanding the case conferences

Victim protection organizations and experts have praised the announced expansion of the security police case conferences on suspected violent criminals. The psychiatrist and court expert Adelheid Kastner emphasized in "Zeit im Bild 2": "The prognoses are only as good as the basis on which they are made." If you do not collect all the information, a risk assessment can only be insufficient. Therefore, the case conferences are absolutely necessary. "You really have to collect all the information that is available on a case."

The psychiatrist, who judged the young man for the trial who shot his ex-girlfriend, her parents and brother and new boyfriend in Kitzbühel in 2019, says of the deeds: "They are executions. They are murders. There are no relationship dramas as it is sometimes so euphemistically called. " The deeds are an "incredible self-empowerment" of one person over another. One has to ask "why this self-empowerment still has a sad tradition in Austria," said Kastner.

Round table is coming

What further improvements there are in the area of ​​violence against women could be determined next week. At the initiative of Zadić and Raab, a round table will then take place - including the victim protection facilities.

Meanwhile, a demonstration against femicides took place in Vienna on Monday evening. Several hundred people moved through the city center, including in the vicinity of the business premises of the alleged perpetrator who was in custody on Thursday evening - the beer innkeeper who became known through the trial of Sigrid Maurer. However, the police blocked access to the alley so that the demo participants could not pass directly in front of the bar. (Lara Hagen, 4.5.2021)

The article was supplemented at 11.30 a.m. by the apology of the Minister for Women and the statement of the Federal Chancellor.

Violence against women

Every fifth woman in Austria is exposed to physical and / or sexual violence from the age of 15, according to a survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. The Association of Autonomous Women's Shelters (AÖF) counts that an average of three women are murdered every month in Austria. The perpetrators are often in a relationship or family relationship with the victim and have not learned to resolve conflicts non-violently.

Violence by men against women occurs in all social classes, nations, family relationships and professional groups. Murders of women are also known as femicides. The term is intended to express that behind these murders there are often no individual, but rather societal problems such as the devaluation of women and patriarchal role models.

Help for those affected by violence is available here:

Women's helpline (Mon-Sun, midnight, free): 0800/222 555
Advice for men (Mon-Fri, local rate): 0720/70 44 00
Emergency number for men (Mon-Sun, midnight, free): 0800/246 247
Telephone counseling (Mon-Sun, midnight, free): 142