President Kersti Kaljulaid recognized six women for their contribution to the prevention of domestic violence, on Friday, presenting them with the annual violence prevention award. The recipients had all worked in the field, including cases where the issue affected children.
"We have successfully broken down the walls which obscured many evil deeds," said the president, who was presenting the awards together with justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa).
"This is what makes us better in Estonia today. Any victim of hidden violence must go break through that wall in order to seek help. Shame – yes, shame, even though they are innocent, the victims often feel ashamed – needs to be overcome, in order to seek help," she continued.
"If, in addition to the inner wall, there lies a wall in front of society, there will be no strength left. This second barrier, social denial, we can, and have already, eliminated," the president went on.
President Kaljulaid has been unequivocal in her position of no-tolerance on the issue of domestic violence. At the end of April, she vacated the Riigikogu chamber when it was the turn of incoming IT minister Marti Kuusik (EKRE) to take his swearing-in oath. Allegations that Kuusik had engaged in domestic violence appeared in the media shortly before the ceremony. He stepped down from the role the next day; his replacement, Kert Kingo, is a woman.
Raivo Aeg added that there was no justification for violence as a whole, and in close relationships in particular.
"This has a serious impact on the victims themselves, and on children who have witnessed the violence. This year, the prize is marked by the fact that it aids the victims of domestic violence, as well as children in coping with the problems," said Aeg, adding that these issues are also crucial at the national level.
A total of 32 candidates were nominated to the violence prevention prize this year, six of whom were selected by the award's commission.
The six receipients were:
- Haini Ilonen, who works at the Pärnu Women's Shelter, a facility she once had cause to use herself. She has brought great insight to the issue of domestic violence, and passed on her wisdom to other victims.
- Elle Karm, a prosecutor in Lääne-Viru County, who has previous experience in police work and a valuable network of contacts and wealth of experience, including help to male perpetrators via a support group.
- Anne Klaar, from the victim support center in Põlva County, who helped launch the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) cooperation model there in 2016, she also provides training and presentations on the topic.
- Laura Mallene, who writes on the topic, particularly from a victim's-eye viewpoint. She is also active in drawing attention to, and preventing, child abuse in sporting activities.
- Merle Purre, a leading expert on the mental health of yound people, who has provided training to youth, parents and teachers, leading many to seek contact with support specialists.
- Sirje Resiberg, an experienced police officer based in western Harju County, who monitors cases and manages a database, communicating with local police and local government, and is a strong point of contact for most families who have experienced domestic violence, in her region.
Editor: Andrew Whyte