Croatia Protesters Demand ‘Justice For Girls’

Thousands of people on Saturday joined protests in towns and cities all over Croatia, demanding justice for victims of sexual violence who do not receive protection from the system.

The trigger for the protests was the release of five young men accused of gang-raping, harassing and blackmailing a 15-year-old girl in the coastal town of Zadar.

The five young men were brought before Zadar County Court last week, which decided not to detain them and only issued a restraining order.

A panel of Zadar County Court judges on Thursday then granted the prosecution the right to appeal and ordered all five men to be remanded in 30 days' investigative custody. However, the protesters are persisting in their demands.

Organised by several women's rights groups, and gathered under the slogan "Justice for Girls", they say impunity is itself a crime and are calling on the relevant institutions to do more to protect victims of sexual violence and punish the perpetrators.

They also want to see disciplinary proceedings conducted against the judge who released the suspects, the case moved to another court and a change to the criminal law - meaning stricter sentences for rape.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

"Justice for Girls" protest in Zagreb. Photo: BIRN.

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