This post is also available in: hrvatski (Croatian)
In January 2020, the SOLIDARNA Foundation, the #SPASIME (en. #SAVEME) initiative, and the Reproductive Justice Platform organised the “Support the Policewoman” campaign, calling on citizens to donate to the policewoman who lost her case against a superior colleague who sexually abused her one night while on duty. Despite that, the suspect was acquitted because the abuse “happened only once”. Even though she did the right thing and exposed the perpetrator to prevent him from potentially repeating the violent offence against other colleagues, the abuse victim must now settle the court fees amounting to at least HRK 10,000.
In just 24 hours, the campaign raised HRK 20,818.10. Generous citizens helped the policewoman in settling the court fees she wouldn’t have been able to settle herself. Since the funds raised were double the amount needed, the excess funds were used to help other victims of sexual and domestic abuse through the #SPASIME Fund.
The court ruling was so scandalous that the President of the Supreme Court publicly apologised to the policewoman. The citizens who donated expressed their outrage at such rulings which acquit perpetrators because the abuse “happened only once”. However, fundraising on a case-by-case basis is not a solution to the problems in the Croatian judiciary. Judges must stop conveying messages to the public that sexual violence will not necessarily be penalised, that the victim’s experience is irrelevant, or that such cases are normal. By issuing such rulings the institutions encourage future perpetrators, at the same time discouraging victims from reporting violence.