Thursday, June 21, 2018

azcOn November 10th 2017, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs announced an open call for associations to provide an SOS helpline service for women who have experienced violence (worth 30 million dinars). One of the requirements of this call is to have a license to provide this service, although the licensing of this service is a mission impossible, and, at the date of announcing the open call, no organization in Serbia had a license, which the Ministry, as the licensing authority, would have to have known.

The question is why doesn’t anyone have a license to provide an SOS helpline out of 327 licenses for social services? The answer is because there is no licensing system for this service. Neither the Organization licensing regulation nor the Ordinance on the conditions and standards for the SOS helpline for women who have experienced violence prescribe what is required to be submitted to the organization to enter the licensing process. If it doesn’t exist, it is concluded that it has been left to organizations to asses which conditions to fulfill and which documents to submit. It should also be noted that until recently the reply of the Republic Institute for Social Protection about the issue of licensing organizations was that the SOS helpline for women can not be licensed.

If an organization would get licensed, despite the lack of procedures, during the the tender and on such a short notice, this could be interpreted as a predetermined outcome of the competition.

We emphasize that this open call also violates the Law on Social Protection because it prescribes that social protection services are provided through public procurement, and not through a tender.

Because of this, the Autonomous Women's Center is wondering whether the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Affairs, through the announced tender, really wants to finance the SOS helpline for women who have experienced violence, in accordance with the needs of women and the standards of the Council of Europe Convention against Violence against Women.

We remind the public that for 25 years this service has been provided by women's civil society organizations organized in the Women Against Violence Network.