The problem of domestic violence is not new. However, many people do not see this as a problem due to social stereotypes. And most often, the offender is a loved one who is “sorry” and who once again “promises to change.” The more the victim remains silent, the more the rapist is convinced of his impunity.
Violence is not only when a person is beaten or raped. This includes deprivation of housing, food, prohibition to work, insults, blackmail, and unwanted touching of the body.
Violence is not the norm and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
Meet Myata, a client of the REAct project. Myata is both the nickname of our heroine and an adjective because the violent actions of her mother are not just words, but the reality of the child for the last three years.
On the first day of studies at the university, Myata reported that she had nowhere to live. She has been mistrusting acquaintances and friends for a long time. At 14, she already worked in a collection company until the police covered it up. At the same time, she was engaged in artistic tattooing. That’s how she survived because she didn’t receive a penny from her mother. On the contrary, the woman cheated the last hryvnias out of her to buy… new dolls, which she greedily collects, having and not raising her two living ones at the same time.
The district juvenile prevention and children’s service had to intervene, protect the girl’s rights, influence the mother, and deprive her of parental rights in the end. If only for one thing: already during the first report of a case of domestic violence, the institution’s administration said one and the same thing: “This is an unusual, problematic girl”, hinting at Myata’s transgenderism and the fact that “for some reason” she constantly cuts her hands and is on record in this regard.
The war brings its own unpleasant corrections to the work of services: numerous official letters may not be answered with impunity, and citizens’ appeals may be ignored and not recorded. Where there used to be a personal reception, it is currently absent. Phone numbers are not working. It is impossible to apply through the websites, because again, due to the martial law, the feedback function has disappeared, as well as the list of officials to whom to write an application. Centers for social and psychological rehabilitation for minors, which should also help, have been evacuated abroad.
Half a year of correspondence did not yield any positive results. On the contrary, thanks to the efforts of her mother, Myata was registered as a runaway child by juvenile prevention. And the truth is always on the side of the mother of the “problem child”.
With such a difficult case, the girl’s social pedagogue turned to REActor. The specialist asked for help to transfer Myata to full state support and help file a lawsuit to deprive her mother of parental rights.
From legal practice, such cases are the most difficult. Especially since the children’s affairs service flatly refused to file a lawsuit, suggesting that it be done by an educational institution or a minor.
During the meeting of all parties initiated by REActor in the district executive committee, Child protective services (CPS) summoned a conflict specialist who tried to “reconcile” mother and daughter.
The decisive dot above “i” in this meeting put the mother’s words: “What are you talking about?! I will send M. to a brothel, let her earn money on dolls!” and a representative-mediator of the free legal aid who happened to be present at the meeting and insisted on including these words in the protocol…
And then the CPS finally “heard” that it is necessary to act urgently because the child is really in difficult life circumstances. However, no one but the mother can represent the interests of the child and the state guardian has not been appointed for 6 months.
Next, a specific urgent plan of action was appointed: an inpatient hospital, an act on an abandoned child, and on March 1, 2023, a meeting of the district executive committee and a long-awaited decision on the appointment of a state guardian in the person of an educational institution and the transfer of M. to full state support.
This means that since March Myata can now live in the institution’s dormitory without fear that her mother will not take her away and abuse her, as before. The girl will receive a social stipend and food allowance guaranteed by the state.
And this means that there will be legal food and money for the most necessary. And… a lawyer from free secondary legal aid!
Thanks to the intervention of the REAct project, real changes took place: a lawsuit was filed, and at the end of April Myata received her first social benefits, on 06.08.23. the first court hearing is scheduled. All services agreed to help and cooperate.
Life goes on!
One says that victories heal the pain. In April, the regional coordinator of the REAct project, Mykola Krasulya, invited Myata to participate in the social advertising contest “We are free, equal, strong!”
A script was developed and a short film was shot by joint efforts. On April 28, the second face-to-face round of the “Zero Tolerance to Violence” project competition took place.
Before this significant, touching, and anticipated event for us, 17 (!) experts selected the 10 best works in each nomination, which, according to the professional jury’s assessment, scored the highest number of points in the 1st round.
Our main heroine of the film faced a difficult task: to present a creative work, reveal its purpose and idea, and overcome her anxiety. Both the first and the second, our smart girl managed to be “excellent”!
1st place in the nomination “Social video” and the general prize of audience sympathy is ours!!! “M/Mint” WON!
Myata, we are proud of you! Continue to grow strong and brave! Dream and strive to make your dreams come true!
And the REAct project continues to work, once again proving the truth: we can stop violence only together, forming zero tolerance of society towards it.