Serbia is a country located in southeastern Europe that has a population of close to seven million people. Additionally, around half of the population consists of women. They often receive unequal rights and treatment.
A land-locked central Balkans country of 7 million, Serbia is a atory to important binding international documents that guarantee the equality of men and women and prohibit gender-based discrimination. The Constitution of Serbia, adopted inendorses equality for women and men, mandates equal opportunities policies, and prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, including discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital and family status. The Law on Gender Equality, adopted instipulates the creation of equal opportunities for exercising rights and obligations, but provides no law enforcement means. The National Strategy for Gender Equality for has expired and preparations are underway for a new one. Studies have found that half of women in Serbia have experienced domestic violence, Women in serbia women and Roma are considered the groups most subject to discrimination. Discrimination and structural barriers lead to a gender pay gap and ificantly lower labour force participation rates among women.
Five young women stand united against a privileged white male, an adored public icon, the founder and director of a famous drama pre-school and, furthermore, Vuk Karadzic prize-winner for lifetime achievement awarded by the Cultural and Educational Community of Serbia for his outstanding contribution to the Serbian cultural space.
These, and other, accolades helped create the atmosphere of unbearable injustice and pain in which the victims lived for a long time. For the first time, we can see these events as beginning the downfall of all the public figures who have abused women in Serbia. The violence is so common but is at the same time so below the radar that no research could support these facts. Our silence was heavy. Immersed by violence and excluded from the political space, we become discreet or just shut up.
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With the rapid development of social networks, the situation is getting better and worse at the same time. While the public space is opening up to marginalized voices, verbal and psychological violence — hate speech, insults, threats, targeting, public shaming — are becoming powerful weapons to silence women, creating an atmosphere in which violence is normalized. The omnipresence and impunity of this violence creates a vicious circle in which the amount of violence justifies impunity and impunity encourages violence.
In other words, if the victims want to prosecute the perpetrators, they are forced to provide them with a platform for further attacks; most women give up prosecution, which again makes violence present and more elusive at once.
There are many disputes about the figure of the survivor; is it possible for an individual woman to come out and overcome the further processes of victimization and re-traumatization in the media or not? A common mistake is to focus on the personality and behaviour of the survivor of violence; it has nothing to do with the case of the insult or the abuse. The most frightening message is sent by the fact that even women who have some kind of symbolic capital and social power also become victims of violence.
Violence is thus seen as an inevitability fate; no matter how powerful you are, there is no escape. And although the severest punishments for these crimes are always debated in public — like the death penalty, abolished concepts in a of EU countrieslife sentences, forced sterilization or bodily mutilation and so on, in reality we get only symbolic satisfaction and shamefully short penalties. It is as if there is no real and appropriate legal regulation.
Even though we live in the year and can see how society forcibly extorts a certain type of behaviour from women, the media still persistently seek ideal victims — the impossible saint figure, the perpetual virgin, a prudent figure that reacts accordingly. The victim must be at the same time so weak as to be violated easily and so brave as to overcome it instantly — hurt enough to have irrefutable physical evidence but calm and concentrated enough to quickly make a credible statement — taking the time to recuperate and Women in serbia every detail.
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The caricatured impression we also get, the common belief we all live in, is that it is the victims that are rocking the boat of peaceful and loving society, disturbing the public by putting the perpetrators on trial or in prison. Our expectations are so low that, at best, the reporting itself of the crime is seen as an epic triumph of justice.
But now we women bluntly refuse to do so. Just because they were allowed to be. And women like me, we are the ones who let them.
But recent real-life events has proven that life is stranger than fiction. On the night the first statement was made, I and many other adult women spent a sleepless night, talking to each other about how incredibly honourable it feels to live today and how much smarter and braver the new generations are.
It is no longer a question of whether these girls can do it but of whether can we contribute to their struggle in any way.
Thanks to Milena Radulovic and her girlfriends, every woman who has suffered violence and been silent or silenced about it can breathe a sigh of relief and think the world is a little better and more just. Justice heals and restores hope.
In future, I expect all girls to feel empowered to step up and raise their voices, not only to speak of violent events but about anything else they see relevant. We need to fill the public sphere with the real, lived experiences of women.
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The opinions expressed are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of BIRN. Thanks to a few brave voices, we are seeing the beginning of the downfall of the public figures who have violently abused women in Serbia for years. Marija Ratkovic is an author and media theorist from Belgrade, Serbia.
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