"Mapping the Murders of Women in Bulgaria" is a project by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. It comes as a response to the systematic neglect by the Bulgarian authorities of the problem of violence against women, with murder being its most extreme and irreversible form.
The murder of a woman, due to the fact that she is a woman, is called femicide. Unlike the gender neutral term murder, femicide addresses the link between gender discrimination and lethal violence against women.
The official statistics in Bulgaria do not contain data on cases of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. Murders, like the most serious form of intrusion against the person, are also not documented and analyzed through the prism of gender-specific features.
The lack of data and analysis only helps to conceal the scale of the problem, the factors that contribute to its persistence and the ways to eliminate it. When initiating the project, the BHC was led by the understanding that it is impossible to fight against "unseen" problems. To eradicate violence, we must first make it visible.
We created a case-law database: The main project activities are related to collecting and processing case-law on women's murders, organizing it in a database and publishing it on the ubita.org platform. The database contains: convictions in cases of intentional murder, attempted murder, and causing death as a result of bodily injury, delivered by regional courts as the first instance in the period 2012-2017, where the victims were women of 14 or more years, and the perpetrators were men.
For the purpose of collecting jurisprudence, between 2015 and 2018, the BHC made more than 110 requests for access to information under the Access to Public Information Act to the 28 regional courts in the country, which are the first instance courts for murders qualified in our interest in the Criminal Code.
On the basis of the case reference summaries received and using the central web-based court interface www.legalacts.justice.bg and the court sites, the BHC researchers reviewed all the sentences for murders in order to separate those on which the victims were women.
The next phase of the study was related to the processing of case-law and the extraction of the information needed for the analysis on predefined indicators - a link between the perpetrator and the victim, the means / means of committing the offense, information about past violence, reports to the police and other. Based on this analysis, an opportunity to search the database was created using one or more of the following criteria:
The database contains 141 court cases. The search results are presented in a list containing the following information: court, case number, year of offense, offense, victim-pepetrator relationship, age of the victim, age of the perpetrator, metho/ means of committing the offense, place of performance of the crime, a link to the judgement published in the web-based judicial interface www.legalacts.justice.bg or the website of the respective court.
The interactive map of the site allows for a review of judgments given by a regional court for murders of women in the period 2012-2017.
We summarize and analyze the data: On the basis of the information gathered, the BHC is preparing a first-ever large-scale case study on cases of intentional murder of women from men in Bulgaria, focusing on murders of intimate partners and relatives. It responds to the calls by the UN, the Council of Europe and the European Union to collect, summarize and analyze data on femicide cases.
We perform media monitoring: Since the beginning of 2018, BHC, together with other activists, has been collecting information about cases of intentional murders of women from men in Bulgaria, reflected in media publications on the Internet. On the basis of media monitoring, a list of the names of the women killed has been drawn up, which refers to journalistic material that reflects lethal cases. The information listed will periodically be updated.
We tell stories: Statistics and the database are a key tool for advocacy and the initiation of legislative and policy changes. However, behind every figure stands a woman's name, personality, and destiny. That is why the project dedicates a separate section in memory of the victims, which tells the stories and battles of some of the victims. The true names of the victims are left.
The Hotline 0800 11 977 is operated by the Alliance for Protection against Gender-Based Violence. It offers free and anonymous social, psychological and legal counseling to people affected by domestic violence.
The project "Mapping the murders of women in Bulgaria" is also supported by the International Women's Club Sofia.