Day 5: SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic, Montenegro
Since its founding by women activists in 1998, SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic (SOSNK) has been providing essential services to survivors of domestic violence and preparing them for a new future without violence through education and training. Their concern embraced the situation of Roma women and children, whose rights and education have long been neglected. The organization operates a shelter, currently housed in a rental building, and a 24-hour-a-day help line.
While helping victims get back on their feet is a vital concern, SOSNK’s director Nataŝa Međedović—who started as a helpline volunteer more than ten years ago—said that the organization is taking aim at stimulating social change in local communities. The organization literally took to the streets with its innovative campaign, Don’t Look Away—Report the Violence. Life-sized constructions of women in different threatening and at-risk poses greeted pedestrians and motorists. Similar black life-size profiles painted on buildings were covered with SOSNK leaflets. Intrigued, people removed the leaflets revealing the drama on the building wall. According to Nataŝa, the campaign represented a completely new idea in her country to inform men and women about the problem and to communicate their responsibility to take action.
In addition to their Don’t Look Away—Report the Violence campaign, SOSNK used innovative installations, art, mobile phone technology, and street theater to raise money to build Montenegro’s first, and much-needed shelter. The shelter will offer a full range of services and is now under construction.
SOSNK utilizes communications to advocate for change on a large scale. Taking to the streets and to the phones are communications techniques that fit the organization’s strategy of raising awareness, encouraging public participation, and building sustainability for their programs and services. “These are tools to change,” Nataŝa puts simply.