CEAS calls on the Commissioner for Equality to be less discriminatory in her activities-CEAS on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade (CEAS) calls on the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality to be less discriminatory, but rather more inclusive, in her, otherwise welcomed, condemnation of verbal and other forms of violence against women, as well as other measures within her purview. Women in public life who are not in power also deserve institutional protection against systemic misogyny, threats and intimidation, including those who in their public work advocate punishment for war crimes, Serbia's cooperation with or membership in NATO, countering harmful Russian influence, or point to the spread of narratives with no scientific merit such as the "cancer epidemic in Serbia", instead of offering it just to opposition journalists and activists, at best. As it happens, the Commissioner condemns the perpetrators of violence against women in some cases, but not in other, although much longer lasting, and yet the offenders in both cases are one and the same.

CEAS reminds the Commissioner, and other stakeholders who addressed the public today, that violence against women is a much broader concept and practice than domestic violence and workplace harassment.

CEAS especially invites the Commissioner to view the television appearance of the MP and President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), a person convicted of crimes against humanity, on TV Happy with presenter Katarina Korša, on November 7, 2019.[1]. In it, among other things, Vojislav Šešelj's behavior at the trial of Milutin Jelicic Jutka, the man accused of sexual harassment of Marija Lukic, is relativized in an impermissible manner.  Unfortunately, Šešelj also uses the opportunity to promote, in an unacceptable way, blatant discrimination on grounds of appearance and other forms of discrimination, as well as arbitrariness in assessing the application of the law based on his perverted perceptions of ​​honor, morality and patriotism, against activists from a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to which the TV Happy presenter does not respond adequately.

[1] Video of Vojislava Šešelj's appearance is available at: https://youtu.be/55m_mQQWibo

CEAS warns that this group of activists and analysts remain the most vulnerable group of women in public life.

In the event that the Commissioner does not react again, in spite of also being notified directly, CEAS will be forced to take it upon itself to file criminal charges against TV Happy, as well as to intensify the disclosure of the Commissioner's failure to act.

CEAS would like to remind that this is not the first time that TV Happy’s morning program is used for spreading misogyny and directing threats against women from the part of the NGO sector. CEAS warns that afterwards many such instances were often openly "promoted" on the front pages of the dailies. In situations where NGO activists dealing in previously mentioned topics were targeted, the Commissioner and other competent authorities never responded ex officio. As a rule, CEAS was forced to respond and fund disputes that defendants intentionally stall. Criminal charges for threats against well-known personalities like Nemanja Ristic, involved in a coup attempt in Montenegro, have not been prosecuted for years.

In addition to criminal charges against several tabloids, CEAS is currently litigating criminal charges it filed against Jugoslav Petrušić (a Serbian-French agent and counterintelligence officer of the French Military Intelligence Service; in 2016 he was tried for espionage in favor of France, the murders of two Kosovo Albanians and other crimes in Kosovo and Metohija during the NATO’s 1999 air campaign), and against Vojislav Šeselj, and soon criminal charges will be filled against the editors and owners of TV Happy. CEAS would also like to remind that another presenter encouraging and promoting misogyny on TV Happy, Irina Vukotić, is now hosting morning show on TV Pink.

Once again, CEAS is concerned that, in the aforementioned cases, in addition to the absence of adequate response from the competent authorities, there is also a lack of broader social solidarity.

Belgrade, 25 November 2019