Lithuanians are most likely in the European Union (EU) to justify sexual and psychological violence in intimate partnership, shows the Eurobarometer survey.
More than a quarter of Lithuanian population believes that forcing a partner to have sex should not be prohibited by law. This is the highest rate throughout the EU.
“Code of Silence”
“There is a “code of silence” still prevalent on domestic sexual violence – there is no willingness to talk about it, and in the conversations, especially in the regions, we can still sometimes hear that it is considered a woman’s duty to her husband”, says Natalija Bitiukova, Deputy Director at the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.
Only 57% of respondents in Lithuania believe that sexual violence against partner is or should be prohibited by law, while the EU average is 87%. Equally low numbers of respondents (58 %) believe that economic control over the partner is or should be considered a crime (EU average – 78%).
Tend to deny women’s sexual autonomy
According to Bitiukova, the tendency in Lithuania is to deny women’s sexual autonomy, indirectly justifying invasive behaviors like sending sexually explicit messages, making ambiguous jokes, engaging in unwanted touching in the workplace.
Bitiukova relates such trends with gender stereotypes prevalent in educational materials, absence of adequate sex education, repetitive questioning of a woman’s autonomy by regularly attempting to ban abortion and stigmatizing contraception.
Positive changes came with the law on protection against domestic violence
On the other hand, public education, training, legislative changes since 2011, when a protection from domestic violence law was initiated, did not go in vain. “More people in Lithuania believe that domestic violence against women is widespread, compared to 2010”, said the lawyer. According to her, this is confirmed by the official statistics – since 2012 reports of domestic violence are steadily growing and in 80% of all cases women are the victims.