March 16, 2019 / 12:59 PM / in 4 days

Croats protest against domestic violence

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Several thousand Croats demonstrated in Zagreb on Saturday, demanding tougher measures against domestic violence and more training for employees in state institutions to help them tackle the problem.

Supporters of the #spasime (#saveme) social network movement attend a protest against domestic violence in central Zagreb, Croatia, March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The rally was prompted by a recent case on the Adriatic island of Pag where a father threw his four children out of an upper floor window. The children, aged three, five, seven and eight, suffered severe injuries.

The protest was organized through the social network movement #Spasime (Save me) which in just two weeks gathered more than 45,000 supporters online.

“We want domestic violence to be treated as a criminal act, not just as an offence,” one of the campaigners said.

The protestors are demanding better education in schools and more training for employees of state institutions to combat incidents of violence. They are also calling for a 24-hour phone assistance for victims to report violence.

“It is evident that the institutions are failing in their job,” Jelena Otasevic Babic, one of the key organizers, told the state television. “The statistical figures are devastating for our society.”

Between 2012-2017, 90 women were murdered by their partners, former partners or other persons close to them. In 2017 alone, 11,506 cases were reported to police for domestic violence.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic was present among the crowd of demonstrators on Saturday and said he was ready to address the issue.

“I’m here less as the Prime Minister and more as a concerned citizen,” he said.

One of the campaign leaders said they would take their demands to the authorities on Monday and “we expect a dialogue.”

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Clelia Oziel

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