When we contacted our colleagues from the Ukrainian city Kharkiv, on the 1st of March , to ask them if there's anything we can do to help them and the people of Kharkiv, we recieved this reply (published verbatim): „Героям слава! (*Praise the heroes!) Many thanks for your letter. We , Kharkiv HUman Rights Protection Group , are ready to be a partner in this. But now our workers are mostly without internet access in the mertro or other bomb shelters . I will discuss logistics with my colleagues in Kyiv tomorrow and write you. All the best“ We have no further information from them since then. Kharkiv is one of the cities near Ukraine's border with Russia, a city where fierce battles have been fought since almost the first day of the Russian invasion. We hope that our colleagues are well and that they will preserve both their lives and their uncompromising faith in human rights as a universal tool for achieving a better world. To help the KhPG, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee will redirect all donations in the coming months to their benefit.
At least one in four women in Bulgaria has been verbally or physically abused at home , according to statistics. Psychologists warn that during and after the quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is even worse. There is a large number of campaigns dedicated to the domestic violence issue in Bulgaria, but none of them are targeted directly at the abusers. Our goal is to change that. When it comes to domestic violence, we are used to seeing women as victims, they are the ones who need of help, who are dependent on men, and are the physically vulnerable part in the conflict. That’s how the real weakness of the abusers remains overshadowed by our desire to help the victims. When in fact In most cases men’s aggressive behavior comes as a result of childhood traumatic experiences and emotional damages left unresolved for years: often they are violence victims themselves, have low self-esteem, mental health issues or live under socio-economic stress and addictions. This campaign sets two main goals : 1. To create and support the First Hotline available to men who commit acts of domestic violence. The hotline will provide professional psychological assistance to male abusers in order to help them recognize and understand their aggressive behavioral problems and the situations that trigger them. Introduce models for managing their emotions, search and find new and non-violent ways of communication. The team of consultants will direct those seeking help to professional work sessions with psychologists from the Alliance's programs for protection against gender based violence network. All the support and assistance provided will be strictly confidential. 2. To change the public debate about the domestic violence issue and the perception of a victim. Most often abusers need to reestablish their powerful and dominant role. The acts of violence are in fact signs of weakness and emotional immaturity, of seeking validation of their own strength and power, of recurring self-doubt. The discourse on women as the “weaker gender” justifies and stimulates this behavior of the aggressors. This campaign will highlight domestic violence as a sign of weakness of the abusers and put them in the position of the weak and vulnerable side of the conflict. It aims to put focus on the prevention of domestic violence, not just healing the wounds. Domestic violence is not a "family issue". It affects us all. Together we can help more men to pick up the phone instead of raising their arm. Support us by donating! This is a campaign realized in partnership together with McCann Sofia advertising agency, The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and The Alliance for Protection Against Gender-Based Violence.
What does the BHC do? Who are the people we help? We want to show you – through this campaign – who we are and what we fight for.
On March 8, International Women's Day, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and the Bulgarian Association of University Women (BAUW) conducted the "Monumental Women" campaign, which aimed to celebrate the achievements of great women in Bulgarian history. Throughout March, the BHC and the BAUW, with the support of the Bulgarian Wikipedia , Goethe-Institut Bulgaria , Polish Institute in Sofia , Fine Acts and Tribal Worldwide Bulgaria organized lectures and discussions, film screenings, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, as well as an artistic action in an urban environment. We have turned March into women's month in order to honour the achievements of women who fought for the promotion of civil and political rights of women in Bulgaria, as well as those who paved the way for other women in education, law, architecture, arts, science, etc. Despite the great contribution that these women have made to the progress of Bulgarian society, science, and culture, for the most part, it has been erased from the pages of history. This is also reflected in the urban space. In Sofia, there is not a single monument dedicated to a real historical woman, according to official data of the Municipal Cultural Institute "Sofia History Museum." In addition, according to the same data, less than 6% of all memorial sites (most of which are memorial plaques) in the city are dedicated to specific female historical figures. With this campaign, we urged Sofia Municipality to develop a clear concept for erecting monuments dedicated to women in our history, and we insisted that the first monument in Sofia, dedicated to a female historical figure, should be erected in 2018. There should be a place for the great women of our history online, in textbooks, in the urban environment, and everywhere where they will inspire a new generation of women in science, politics, architecture, art, and every other field. Let us celebrate the achievements of the Bulgarian monumental women every March. Monuments of Women in Sofia The "Monumental Women" project started with a very short letter addressed to Sofia Municipality. In it, we asked how many monuments and memorial sites exist in the city, as well as how many of them are dedicated to female historical figures. After almost three months we received a detailed answer from the Municipal Cultural Institute of Sofia Municipality. In it, they informed us that the total number of memorials (or memorial sites) in the municipality is between 600 and 700. Apart from them, there are 140 military monuments and 20 soldiers' monuments dedicated to foreign troops. The Cultural Institute notes that they are not aware of works of art dedicated to specific female historical figures. They also enclose a list of memorial plaques dedicated to women. There are a total of 38 and in most cases, they mark the homes of famous writers and poets, artists, actresses, and public figures. Some of them are Gena Dimitrova, Dora Gabe, Ekaterina Karavelova, Elisaveta Bagryana, Prof. Katya Zahireva, Mimi Balkanska, Yana Yazova, and others. Most people will be surprised to learn that there are no monuments dedicated to specific women in our history in Sofia. This is probably because there are female images in the urban space, but they are always anonymous - the woman as a mother or as a worker who is always deprived of a name, of her own history and contribution. The lack of women in history textbooks and in the urban space creates the false impression that women have not contributed to the development of Bulgarian society. If we address this imbalance together, we can inspire a whole new generation of women in science, architecture, art, literature, as well as in any other area of public life.
Nobody Knows the True Number of Victims of Police Brutality in Bulgaria In Bulgaria, there is no government body or institution whose activities include collecting and analyzing information concerning police violence. This is stated in the BHC report "Legal and Practical Challenges for the Effective Investigation of Police Brutality". With its publication on 31 January 2017, the BHC launched its information campaign against police violence in Bulgaria.
The "Childhood without Bars" campaign aims to achieve comprehensive reform in the field of juvenile justice. The campaign was launched on 24 September 2015 as a result of repeated criticism and warnings from various international and national organizations about the inadequate juvenile justice system in Bulgaria. The child, whether a victim or a perpetrator, must first and foremost be treated by law as a child. Moreover, deprivation of liberty is not only harmful to a child but also does not help prevent recidivism. Deprivation of liberty is the most expensive and inefficient way of "dealing" with children in conflict with the law.