At a special sitting on August 7, Bulgaria’s Parliament approved the second and final reading of amendments to the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, after having amended the act in a vote on July 21.
The new amendments, tabled by We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, came against the background of a recent spate of well-publicised cases of violence against women.
The amendment expand the scope of protection afforded by the law to those in what is termed an “intimate relationship”, defined as one lasting more than 60 days. The law previously on afforded protection to those who were married or living together.
The amendments were approved at first and second reading at one sitting, which opponents said violated a Constitutional Court ruling that doing so was not permissible when there was an intention to introduce further amendments between two readings.
On August 8, Kristian Vigenin of the Bulgarian Socialist Party told Bulgarian National Television that the BSP intended approaching the Constitutional Court over the August 7 procedure.
There was outrage at GERB-UDF MP Vezhdi Rashidov over remarks he made during an adjournment of the sitting.
Microphones in the House picked up Rashidov saying: “We have laws in place already. What are we yapping our mouths for? All the whores woke up to remember after 15 years that they have been raped. Like with that American director who was made a monkey out of”.
Amid the controversy, Rashidov apologised and stepped down as a member of the GERB-UDF executive committee and as chairperson of the parliamentary committee on culture and media. The GERB-UDF group, in a statement, distanced itself from Rashidov’s remarks.
On August 8, a series of protest rallies in solidarity with victims of domestic violence was scheduled for Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, Stara Zagora – location of one of the recent notorious cases – and several other cities in the country.
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