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Deputy Protector of Citizens, Ms. Jelena Stojanović, stated that the elderly in the Republic of Serbia were often endangered, at times unjustly marginalized as well, due to numerous stereotypes that prevailed and that most of them were not even aware that they had been discriminated against and that their rights had been violated.

“That is why the role of all of us is to demonstrate to them that they are very important for our society. We want to empower them to exercise their rights and keep them on that path", Ms. Stojanovic said at the workshop on the protection against discrimination and violence over elderly women in Čajetina organized by associations “Snaga prijateljstva - Amity" and "Zlatiborski krug".

Stojanović highlighted that the biggest problems faced by the elderly were poverty and violence, as well as neglect within family which included property disposal without their consent, followed by difficult exercise of rights to material support when in a difficult life situation and difficulty in exercising the right to assistance and care of another person.

“The elderly women in rural environments encounter more frequently the unpaid house work, difficulties in exercising the rights from health and social insurance and lack of community services” Stojanović said and added that many of the stated problems had been particularly expressed during the state of emergency imposed due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Protector of Citizens believes that it is necessary to put in place a more efficient system of social welfare coordinated with the needs of the elderly, to provide amenities and necessary support services in local contexts and take all the available measures in order to provide an adequate health care protection in emergency circumstances.

The chair of the citizens’ association “Snaga prijateljstva – Amity”, Ms. Nadežda Satarić, said at the workshop that every tenth individual in Serbia exposed to violence was over 75 and that they were mostly women from rural areas.

“We wish to talk with the elderly about everything that they recognize as acts of violence and here we do not just refer to physical violence which we most frequently recognize. The elderly most often do not recognize different forms of economic exploitation, or some forms of neglecting their needs, as well as the forms of mental violence,” Ms. Satarić said.

Workshop participants, the elderly women and men from Čajetina, Bela Zemlja, Zlatibor, Mačkat and Kriva Reka, highlighted that they had been facing systemic discrimination, violation of their economic and social rights and the right to dignity due to low pensions, as well as the unavailability and inadequate quality of health care services and the high cost of medicines prescribed to them. In addition, they stated that they were aware of the existence of domestic violence in their surroundings, but that they have not had immediate experience of it.

The workshop has been realized within the project “Improved safety of women in Serbia” conducted by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in cooperation with Serbian Ministry of the Interior.