Greece is putting the panic button into law, introducing a bill to be voted on today on November 17th in the plenary session of the Parliament.
The program is provided for by an amendment submitted to the bill of the Ministry of Justice that incorporates a European directive on exchange of information about third country nationals.
What is the panic button?
The panic button is a digital application that will instantly help you reach out for help if you find yourself in a difficult situation.
As noted in the amendment, the panic button sends a short text message to the police in instances in which family violence is associated with a threat or danger to life and physical integrity. The purpose is immediate intervention by the police force.
In short, there will be a three-digit number that you call with your mobile phone and then immediately click on the ‘panic’ indicator that comes out on the screen.
Automatically, the phone through the special application is connected to the center of the service which will receive the calls (whether it is the police or some other special service), and it detects where you are through the GPS of your cell phone.
Those eligible for registration during the pilot operation of the program include women who are victims of domestic violence. Particularly, it refers to female victims living in the region of Attica and the regional unit of Thessaloniki.
Once the ‘panic button’ program finishes its pilot operation, it will be evaluated by the competent services of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Citizen Protection.
Why is there a rise in femicides in Greece?
Up until late September, 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.