Every fourth woman in Bulgaria is a victim of domestic violence, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said on March 6 2010, two days ahead of International Women’s Day.
Most cases are caused by men seeking to exercise power over their spouses, with other causal factors including lack of money, alcohol, and childhood psychological trauma, according to research cited in a news agency report quoted by BNT.
Stanimira Hadzhimitrova, co-founder of director of the Gender Project in Bulgaria said that violence existed in many forms and was widespread.
Statistics were imprecise because many victims were ashamed or feared retribution while others had the support of friends and relatives.
According to research done by the Gender Project in 2000, in 92 per cent of cases, the perpetrators of domestic violence physical assaults were men. Women were "masters" of psychological and mental abuse that was no less frightening, Hadzhimitrova was quoted as saying.
Forcing someone into prostitution should also be seen as a form of violence and there should be extensive discussion of this issue before there was any decision on regularising sex work, she said.
She called for civic education in schools on the topic of domestic violence.
BNT quoted research showing that it was untrue to claim that domestic violence was limited to less educated and poorer sections of Bulgarian society; it existed at all strata.
There were few convictions because current law failed to provide rapid and effective protection for victims, and prosecutors still tended to regard abuse in the home as a family problem and not as a criminal offence. Further, it was a taboo to discuss domestic violence.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament has launched a special webpage dedicated to International Women's Day 2010.
"Through the whole month of March this page will bring you coverage of EP events dealing with this year's theme: ending violence against women. MEPs, national MPs, special guests, experts and the public will contribute to the debate in meetings, events and even via Facebook, with ideas on how to prevent violence and help victims. The theme of the campaign - all documents, interviews, photos and video - will always be the same: We can stop it!" the webpage says.