'Panic button' app helps Greek women facing domestic violence

domestic violence against women app

A new digital application for cellphones will support Greek women facing domestic violence.

The free app, 'Panic Button', can send a text message (SMS) to the police operational centre by simply pressing on a button.

The app was introduced in Athens and Thessaloniki on March 23 and connects with Greek police departments, the Offices to Manage Domestic Violence in Athens and Thessaloniki, and counseling centres under the General Secretariat of Demographic and Family Policy and Equality of the Sexes at the Labour Ministry in Attica and Thessaloniki.

In order to acquire the app, a woman needs to fill out: numerical code, social security number (AMKA), full name, cellphone number, exact address and floor, name on the doorbell, history of violent incidents, indication of whether the perpetrator has a gun, indication of children and/or pregnancy of the victim, indications of a history of addictions and/or mental illness by the perpetrator.

Why is there a rise in femicides in Greece?

Up until late September 2022, there were already thirteen victims of femicides recorded in Greece in 2022 alone. Over twenty women were murdered in the county by partners or former partners in 2021, when the phenomenon began reaching unprecedented levels.

The case that drew the most international attention was that of Caroline Crouch, who was killed by her husband Babis Anagnostopoulos at their family home in Athens in May 2021.

In August, two femicides that occurred within a few hours of each other at Rethymnon, Crete and on Zakynthos shocked public opinion in Greece.

“We are a deeply sexist and patriarchal society,” said Anna Vougiouka, a social scientist and expert on matters of sex at “Diotima,” the female studies and research center.

“Patriarchy means to control, [and] it means I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” she explains. She adds that if a woman decides to leave a patriarchal man, violence usually escalates.

Femicide is traditionally connected to the devaluation of women, which is a symptom of patriarchy, said Anna Lazou, an assistant professor of Philosophical Anthropology at Athens University. “Women being murdered for their sex are being murdered predominantly by male boyfriends or husbands,” she says.

Dimitris Kioupis, an associate professor of Criminal Law and Procedure at the Athens University Law School believes that it is about time that the term “femicide” be introduced in the Greek Penal Code.

“There are EU guidelines introduced into the Greek Penal system, but recent changes introduced by the government are distinguishing between murders committed in the heat of the moment and those committed in cold blood,” Kioupis explains.

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