Bulgarian Policy on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a global problem that tortures and maims physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations denying women and girls equality, security, dignity, self-worth and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms. It is present in every country cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. No society can claim to be free of such violence.  

Domestic violence is still a serious and widespread problem in Bulgaria. According to a report from 2006 one of every four women in Bulgaria has been a victim of domestic violence. A report from 2007 says that 40 % from Bulgarians know woman, who has been a victim of domestic violence. The problem is complicated by factors such as weak criminal laws and policies and the tradition, which believes that domestic violence is a personal problem.

Bulgaria is one of the few countries in Europe that have adopted a law for protection against domestic violence. Amongst European Union Member-States, only Austria and Germany have separate laws on the protection against domestic violence while in the UK the problem is regulated in the family code. The Protection against Domestic Violence Act /PADVA/ was promulgated in State Gazette, No. 27/29 March 2005. It regulates the rights of persons who have suffered from domestic violence, protection measures and the procedure for the application of the latter.

According to the definitions provided in the PADVA an act of domestic violence is:

  • every act of physical, psychological or sexual violence;
  • every attempt at such violence;
  • the forceful limitation of personal freedom and personal life; committed against persons who are or have been:
  1. in family or kinship ties;
  2. in a de facto cohabitation;
  3.  or residing in the same house.

Who can be a perpetrator of domestic violence in the sense of the PADVA?

  1. spouse or former spouse;
  2. person who is or has been in a de facto spouse-like cohabitation;
  3. person who has a child;
  4. ascending;
  5. descending;
  6. brother or sister;
  7. relatives connected by marriage up to second degree; guardian, trustee or adoptive parent

Program for prevention from Domestic violence was developed by the Ministry of Interior in order to facilitate victims of domestic violence and the work of the police regarding victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.  The program is posted on the Internet site of the Ministry of Interior. There is much useful information such as researches and guidelines for the victims of domestic violence and police officers dealing with such problems. With reference to the program a handbook was developed and edited by the Ministry of Interior, in close cooperation with many other governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Methodological guidelines on actions of the police authorities according to Law of protection against the domestic violence are in use in Bulgaria. They were approved with ordinance of The Minister of Interior. The methodological guidelines on actions of the police authorities on Law of protection against the domestic violence contain basic requirements and rules for action, in accordance to the Law of protection against the domestic violence without excluding all possible situations and variants, which could arise out as a result of the police practice.                                                                                                                              When case of domestic violence is reported, under the terms of the Methodological guidelines on actions of the police authorities according to Law of protection against the domestic violence, the police authorities are obliged to record the case.

According to Chapter IV of the Methodological guidelines on actions of the police authorities, according to Law of protection against the domestic violence:

  • the Director of National Police Service has assigned a national coordinator with issuing an order;
  • the Directors of the district police directorates have assigned regional coordinators with issuing of an order.

The police officers observe for execution of the court protection order or court emergence protection order, issued by the relevant regional court, when the imposed protection measures are among of the following:  

  • obliging the perpetrator to restrain from further acts of domestic violence;
  • removing the perpetrator from the jointly inhabited abode for the term,defined by the court;
  • prohibition for the perpetrator to approach to the abode, the place of work and the places for social contacts and recreation of the aggrieved person under conditions and term, defined by the court.

When the police officer who is obliged to observe for execution of protection order finds necessary, she/he can have a conversation with the perpetrator of the domestic violence act. During these conversations, the police officer warns the perpetrator that she/he must obey the imposed to her/him by the court measures and if she/he breaks them, she/he will be arrested.

By request of suffering from domestic violence persons, the police officer who is obliged to observe for execution of protection order, has conversations with them and:

  • ascertains that the perpetrator attempted to connect with the suffered person;
  • ascertains that the perpetrator takes any actions against suffered person, which could be defined as breaking of the court order.

Supplements, related to policy for protection against domestic violence in Bulgaria.

  • Rules for Implementation of the Protection against Domestic Violence Act (PADVA) were developed and adapted in 2010 by the Council of Ministers.
  • Instruction for Cooperation, between Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, regarding cases of domestic violence was developed and adopted in 2010. 
  • National Programme for Prevention and Protection from Domestic Violence 2011 was developed and adopted in 2010.

The programme specifies:

  1. Objectives in priority areas of prevention and protection from domestic violence.
  2. Activities for prevention and protection from domestic violence.
  3. Responsible authorities and partners to implement the objectivies of the program.
  4. Financing of activities defined in the program.
  5. Expected results of program implementation.