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Gender-Based Violence

Rates of violence against women in Croatia are globally relatively low, however 13% of women have still experienced sexual and/or physical violence in their lifetime, with 3% having suffered from this at the hands of a partner, in the last 12 months (1). 3% have also suffered from sexual violence at the hands of someone who was not their partner, throughout their lives (1). Between 2013 and 2017, 63 women were killed by someone close to them and 46 were killed by their partners (2) so it is clear that violence against women is still a prevalent issue.

2014: There were approximately 13,067 reports of domestic violence made under the Misdemeanour Domestic Violence Law.(6) The incidence of domestic violence is actually higher, however, this number does not include either criminal‐level domestic violence offences or unreported abuse.

2013: There were approximately 14,335 reports of domestic violence made under the Misdemeanour Domestic Violence Law. (6)

2012: 31% of women in Croatia reported having experienced frequent domestic violence, while 44% reported having experienced it occasionally.(6)

Femicides are also a serious problem in Croatia:

2013: 11 women were killed by their male partners.(6)

2012: 12 women were killed by their male partners.(6)

2010-2020: 300 women have been murdered by their husbands, partners and/or relatives.[7]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

2012: The estimated annual cost of gender-based violence against women in Croatia amounts to €1,913,814,248.(8)

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

In Croatia, police told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network that the number of domestic violence cases was up from 94 in March 2019 to 120 in March 2020. The police proceeded to stress that the rise should not be interpreted as an “overall increase in violence” but was the result of efforts to educate police officers on how to identify such offences.

On 8th April 2020, the Autonomous Women’s House of Zagreb stated that in February 2020 – March 2020, it had received 19 requests from women for admission to its shelter and was receiving around 10 calls every day.(9)


In the world of work, Croatian women can be found in high numbers in the financial and insurance sector (making up 70.3% of employees) as well as the health and social care sector (making up 78% of employees) but in low numbers in construction (making up 11.8% of employees) and manufacturing (making up 37.1% of employees) (3). The overall unemployment rate in Croatia was recorded at 17.8% in 2010 and today, only 42.5% of women work meaning that 57.5% are unemployed (3). Women are often responsible for childcare, with 85% of children being given to mothers after divorce; furthermore of the 1,888,003 single parent households recorded in 2001, the majority were led by a single mother (3). Research from 2009 found that only 1.7% of men use parental leave benefits (3). This may explain the absence of women in the workplace in comparison to their male counterparts. There is also a noticeable pay gap between working women and working men, with men earning, on average, 11% more than women (3).

Political representation of women

After the 2020 election, 32% of the seats were taken by women (5). In 2008, a law was implemented in order to ensure a more equal representation of women in politics (5).


In 2008, the life expectancy for women was 79.6 years old. Since 1999, birthing rates for women below 20 years old, have decreased with there being 806 less births in 2009 than there were 10 years prior. Today, 73.1% of women have been prescribed oral contraception and 99.9% of births are carried out in a hospital. In 2008, over 458,000 preventative examinations in primary care for women were completed (3).


The literacy rate for women is high at 98.9% (4) and female students have a gross enrollment rate of over 100 in secondary education (4). In higher education, women are also successful as a group; 55% of women attending tertiary school receive a doctoral degree and 59.5% of women complete a tertiary educational qualification (4). As is the case across Europe, many more women than men study education and in Croatia, women make up 91.9% of these students across universities (4). Whilst the number of female teachers in universities is 12.7% higher than the number of male teachers, only 20.9% of deans in universities are women (4). Whilst overall educational enrolment is good, less than 50% of Roma children will finish primary school (4).

Current Law and Policy:

The government of Croatia has laws in place to combat domestic violence in their country. Domestic violence is included as an aggravated factor under the Criminal Code and includes increased penalties when the crime is committed within the family or out of hatred against a family member. The Law on Protection against Domestic Violence includes protective measures for victims, such as short-term or long-term restraining order or eviction, as well as measures directed at offenders’ behaviour such as psychosocial treatment (Human Rights Council, 2013). In April 2018, following a vigorous public debate, the country ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), which entered into force in October 2018. the recently adopted legal and policy measures still fall short of international standards and contain restrictive provisions that limit access to rights for many victims of gender-based violence. The new Law on Protection against Domestic Violence, which entered into force in 2018, expands the definitions of domestic violence to include psychological and economic violence and broadens the definition of “family” to encompass unmarried intimate partners.3 The law also strengthens existing misdemeanour sanctions for domestic violence, and provides additional remedies, including protective measures, for the survivors. Nevertheless, the scope of the law remains somewhat limited, as it continues to exclude persons who do not have children with their partner, who do not share the same residence with their partner, or who have lived with their partner for less than three years. A report by amnesty international for the 2020 UN Universal Periodic Review presented that existing laws are failing victims of domestic violence in Croatia.

Frontline Services:



  1. The Advocates for Human Rights, Implementation of Croatia’s Domestic Violence Legislation: Follow-Up Report, 2016.

  2. AutonomnaženskaKuća Zagreb and The Advocates for Human Rights, “Implementation of Croatia’s Domestic Violence Legislation”, (2016), Follow-Up Report.

  3. EIGE, “Estimating the Costs of Gender-Based Violence in the European Union”, (2014), Report.

  4. X. Bami, N. Dervisbegovic, M. Stojanovic, S. Marusic, M. Necsutu, S. Kajosevic, A. Vladisavljevic, M. Barberá and S. Todorov, “COVID-19 and Domestic Abuse: When Home is Not The Safest Place”, (, 21 April 2020).

Further Reading

[1] OECD, “Croatia”, (2019), Social Institutions and Gender Index.

[2] Amnesty International, “Croatia: Existing Laws are Failing Victims of Domestic Violence”, (2020), Submission for the UN Universal Periodic Review, 36th Session of the UPR Working Group.

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