Through the combined efforts from colleagues within and outside the justice chain in both Norway, Lithuania, and abroad, the first of the scheduled workshops took place in Birstonas in Lithuania in April 2022.
About the project
Lithuania faces many challenges in the ongoing effort to reduce the occurrence of domestic and gender-based violence. More than 58,000 calls about these types of incidents took place in 2020, and the real number is believed to be even higher. There is a documented need for strengthening the methodology used when handling these cases, through all links of the criminal justice chain. Unless all links of the chain work together on this task, the process will be unsuccessful. For this reason, the participants for the very first workshop were from the police, the prosecution service, and the national courts administration as well as practicing judges. They were also from several different towns and counties across Lithuania.
An outside perspective – from both sides
With participants from Lithuania, Norway, Finland and the United Kingdom there were already different perspectives gathered for the workshop. How different is the work against domestic and gender-based violence in different countries, and what ideas can we take and implement from each other that we had not thought of already?
In the opening lecture of the workshop the topic centred around going through the changes that have taken place within the investigative field and how domestic violence cases have been handled in Norway over the past ten or so years. The current approach has been developed over time, and has been subject to scepticism, criticism, and reviews and retracing steps. Telling this story was important to leave the ground open to discuss not just the good that each person working with this challenging field does, but to question our working methods and open for the possibility of change.
This became a central topic for the workshop as a whole. With the questioning title, Is domestic violence more than a private matter?, the participants were challenged on how they currently view the victims, perpetrators and the cases and what can be done to make a change where this is not in their best interests. Some may still view domestic violence as something for people to deal with privately, and not worth spending public resources on resolving. As one of the speakers from the Norwegian centre for violence and traumatic stress studies pointed out, the statistics over the costs of domestic and gender-based violence state otherwise. Every year victims are prevented from taking part in the workforce and leading an active life due to illness and trauma caused by domestic violence perpetrators, or simply prevented from taking part in the rest of society by their controlling partner. Research presented by another speaker shows that many violent adults were once children who witnessed violence in their childhood homes.
Breaking the cycle of domestic violence is a massive challenge. It is a challenge for the victims, for the perpetrators, for the loved ones who witness it, and it is also a great and important challenge for legal practitioners working in the justice chain. The question is then, how do we face this challenge?
Asking important questions and finding the answers
Having practitioners from first responders to prosecutors and judges together in the same room as skilled and experienced speakers working in the field of domestic and gender-based violence opened the possibility to see the perspective of the other and to ask why things are currently done in this or that way. Together we were able to find a lot of valuable insights and answers to these questions. However, as the participants were reminded throughout the workshop, it is a long term and continuous process.
The project the workshop was part of is currently planned to last until January 2024, with future workshops and events currently in the planning stages. If you would like to be part of this project either as a speaker or contributor, the coordinators would like you to get in touch with you. Click here to leave your contact details and the project coordinator from Norway, Renate Sætre, will be in touch with you shortly.
You can find more pictures here.