Domestic violence is class-blind

Most female victims of domestic violence in Greece are employed, educated and relatively well off, according to statistics released yesterday by a government official who called for tighter protection laws. «There is a need for a distinct and clear legal framework to combat a form of violence that, in most cases, is secret and invisible. We also need to strengthen support services and centers which give shelter to victims,» said Evgenia Tsoumani, head of the General Secretariat for Equality, a government agency operating under Interior Ministry auspices. Speaking on the eve of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, Tsoumani said her department had surveyed some 3,000 women who registered as victims at the secretariat’s advice centers. Seven out of 10 were educated to secondary or higher level; six in 10 said their financial status was average or good and eight in 10 had jobs. These figures dispel the myth that women abused by their partners are uneducated and from poor families, said Tsoumani. She added that three-quarters of the women who came to the centers had sought help from the police, courts and hospitals in the past. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos acknowledged that more needed to be done to tackle the problem but hinted it might be a long process. «We are dealing with a age-old and, unfortunately, entrenched problem so our policy is still being developed as a starting point which can be built upon in the future,» he said. The majority (64 percent) of victims, according to the survey, were between the ages of 31 and 50. Two-thirds of the women questioned were married and one in three said they had been beaten by their partner before marriage. Half of the women said they had been in their current relationship for over 16 years.