Violence against women and domestic violence in relation to the Istanbul Convention

AuthorPanagiota Petroglou
10 Violence against women and domestic vi olence in relat ion to the Istanbul
10.1 General (legal) context
10.1.1 Surveys and reports on issues of violence against wom en and domestic violence
Act 3500/2006472 was the first systematic attempt to deal with domestic vi olence in
Greece. According to Act 3500/2006, domestic physical injury constitutes a specific offence
and is punished more severely than the common physical injury. A big novelty of Act
3500/2006 was th e institution of penal mediat ion in the Greek penal system for the first
time, in implementation of the Decision-Framework of the European Council of 15 March
2001 (2001/220). ccording to the Greek case law,473 penal mediation is a specific
procedural condition for the exercise of criminal prosecution: the Advocate General has to
examine the possibility of penal mediation before following the penal procedure, otherwise
the latter is null and void.
An interesting survey providing insights into issues of domestic violence was published in
2015. It is based on empirical research into cases involving p enal m ediation between
spouses and partners by the District Attorney of the city of Thessaloniki in Northern
Greece.474 The introduction of penal mediation has been criticised due to the lack of entities
to conduct the therapeutic/counselling programme. The empirical research was conducted
in 2011 and concerned cases put forward for p enal mediation from the entry into force of
the said Act until 2010.
Most of the cases involved violence between spouses (56 %). Of 27 perpet rators 26 were
male and only one female, who happened to be the victim as well (case of mutual
violence). Of 29 victims, 23 were f emale and 6 male (3 of whom were p erpetrators as
well), i.e. there was an over-representation of men among the perpetrators and of women
among the victims . In 5 out of 18 cases of violence between spouses there was a minor
child in the family who, according to the Act, is considered to be a v ictim of domestic
violence. Among the p eople involved, 59 % were Greek nationals whereas 41 % were
citizens of the ex-Soviet Un ion and the Balkans. According to the survey , this shows that
the factors which lead to domestic violence deteriorate due to the traumatic experience of
immigration. However, among the cases whe re the procedure of pen al mediation was
recalled,475 the percentage of foreigners was 71 % (five out of seven perpetrators). 50 %
of the cases c oncerned physical violence, 40 % psychological violence and 10 % verbal
violence. The author criticised the implementation as typically bureaucratic and to a great
extent impersonal and time-consuming and the therapeutic/counselling programme as
particularly short and not likely to prevent relapse; the victim has a secondary role in the
procedure and her/his protection is not secured.
According to the author, penal mediation could be successful if: (i) there were more
entities competent to run the therapeutic/counselling programme; (ii) the less serious
cases were selected for penal mediation followin g an expert opinion by a psychologist or
a social w orker; (iii) the social services of the local authorities wer e involved. Moreover,
more hostels for the victims are needed along with awareness-raising campaigns. Long-
472 Act 3500/2006, OJ A 232/24.10.2006.
473 SCPC (Penal Section) 498/2019.
474 Hatzispyrou, Th. (2015), ‘  &  .     
  /        
 Σ Domestic violence and penal arbitration. A theoretical study with emphasis on
violence between spouses/partners and an empirical study of penal mediation cases by the District Attorney
of ThessalonikiΣ),  (Criminology) (2015), pp. 117 et c.
475 According to the system of penal mediation, if the perpetrator complies with the conditions of the penal
mediation for a period of 3 years, the procedure is concluded and there is no penal sanction by the State.
During the penal mediation, the criminal act is not time-barred until the penal mediation is concluded. In
case the perpetrator breaches on purpose the terms of the mediation, the penal mediation is recalled and
the penal proceedings continue. In this case, a new petition for penal mediation is not allowed.

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