Across Bulgaria, many thousands turn out in protest against violence against women

In Sofia and many other cities in Bulgaria, many thousands turned out on July 31 in a nationwide protest against violence against women and the lacklustre performance of the judicial system in dealing with such cases.

The protests followed a well-publicised case in which an 18-year-old woman was violently assaulted and disfigured by an assailant, who slashed her hundreds of times, but in which the attack was initially treated only as “minor bodily harm”.

Some days ago, Bulgaria stepped up the provisions of its Protection against Domestic Violence Act, but those provisions do not apply in a case such as the woman who was viciously slashed, because her assailant was not her spouse nor in cohabitation with her.

Bulgarian National Television reported on the evening of July 31 that many thousands filled the squares of more than 30 cities and towns across the country, to highlight the case of the 18-year-old woman and to demand that there should be no tolerance for assailants, and to protests against inadequate legislation and poorly functioning institutions.

Participants in the protests demanded the resignation of the members of the judiciary who initially released the attacker from custody, and demanded greater protection for people who are victims of such violence.

In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, the demonstration was entitled “We will not be silent. Stop the genocide against women”.

Among the demands were the resignation of judge Tatyana Gioneva from the District Court in Stara Zagora, who ruled that the girl had a slight physical injury and released the accused, Georgi Georgiev, even though this was his third such offence, Bulgarian National Television said.

On July 31, against the background of widespread public outrage at the handling of the case, the Stara Zagora District Court, responding to an application by prosecutors that the assailant had threatened to kill the 18-year-old woman, remanded the assailant in custody.

The accused, aged 26, is now charged with two counts of inflicting “medium” bodily injury and uttering death threats. Investigations, including medical examinations, are continuing.

(Photo, from the protest outside the courthouse in Varna: Leah Sawyer)

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