9 Jul 2018

Domestic violence death prompts challenging art

A chilling social experiment -- conducted after a Bulgarian woman was beaten to death -- explores the silence surrounding domestic violence following Bulgaria’s failure to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Domestic violence death prompts challenging art - NewsMavens
Still from Beat. Vimeo

Why this story matters:

-- by Elizabeth Pratt

In Sofia, Bulgaria, a woman was brutally murdered by her partner. Despite her screams for 50 minutes, none of her apartment neighbors called the police.

Maksim Stoimenov and Peruna Keremidchieva rented an apartment in the same complex and played the drums for under 2 minutes before neighbors reacted to the noise -- this was made into a widely publicized video called Beat.

This project exemplifies why countries in the EU like Bulgaria, which have high rates of partner-committed physical and/or sexual violence, must prioritize the prevention of abuse against women.

In a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence, Bulgaria should not have failed to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Clearly Bulgaria has a long way to come in protecting their female population, and Fine Acts is trying to prompt the country to make this change.

In a world where women are struggling to gain protection and equality, the events in Bulgaria could prove a crucial indication of the power of art in promoting change.

Details from the story:

  • Beat. is a project featuring a man playing drums in an apartment complex where a woman was loudly murdered to show how neighbors do not respond to abuse-related noises but do respond promptly to other domestic noises. It was produced by Fine Acts.
  • “In many post-communist societies, and beyond, it is common for neighbours to react to any loud noise, as long as it is not related to a domestic dispute or abuse -- as domestic violence is seen as a ‘private matter’,” said Yana Buhrer Tavanier, Director of Fine Acts.
  • The video received 150,000 views in its first month. The goal of the video is to raise questions about civil responsibility and complicity arising from inaction by crossing barriers between private and public space.
  • “Abuse thrives in silence and we can end it only by pointing it out and talking about it,” stated Stoimenov and Keremidchieva.  
  • Bulgaria has some of the highest rates of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner in the EU. Due to problems with legislation and implementation, women often do not seek help from authorities or organizations regarding problems of domestic abuse.
  • The Bulgarian government failed to ratify the Istanbul Convention this past spring because of opposition from far-right and religious groups.
  • According to the UN, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced domestic violence, but only two-thirds of countries have made domestic abuse illegal.
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