Rape is a Crime that Has to be Taken Seriously
From October 6 till February 3, we conducted several different activities aimed at inspiring young girls and women in Niš to get more confident, more educated, to recognize danger and escape the violence and exploitation, to fight for themselves and the others. We also addressed femicide, sexual violence against girls and women as well as human trafficking, as some of the most frequent forms of violence against children, girls and women.
October was a month for showing resistance and solidarity through street actions. After a Serbian tabloid media portal broadcasted an interview with convicted rapist, we went into streets to protest this act with street action “Rape is a crime that has to be taken seriously in Serbia”. Same month we held street action and marked the European Day Against Human Trafficking, as well as the street action dedicated to little Petra, a 2-year-old girl that was brutally murdered by her father.
Our peer-educators and young activists continued to educate fellow students on the topic of human trafficking and its prevention, through another series of educational theaters in high schools in Niš, as well as through educational workshops.
We marked 16 days of activism with “Women’s Graveyard” performed in 10 cities across Serbia, in cooperation with 10 different organizations from those cities. The performance raised awareness about the femicide, but also reminded us how important good cooperation and coordination of women’s organizations in the country is. Our youngest activists performed “Recognize the Human Trafficking and Report It” performance within the 16 days of activism as well. At the same time, we started participation in this year’s One Billion Rising campaign, named Rise for Freedom, with ten street actions dedicated to freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation for all women and girls in the entire world, as well as with a self-defense workshop “Rise for Freedom”. In November, we opened a call for volunteers for a future daycare center for children who live and work on the street and&or violence and who are or are at risk of vecoming victims of traffiking in human beings.
December was a busy month. We finished 16 days of activism, conducted interactive presentations for teachers in high schools we cooperated with for educational theaters and performed “Women’s Graveyard” two days before New Year’s Eve, because two more femicides occurred in just 8 days. We also conducted the first set of Empowering Self Defence workshops for girls and women in Niš and managed to pack and move out of our old office and into a new one.
Unfortunately, winter holidays were marked by yet another case of violence against women. Only few days after holidays, we had to go out on the street to demand justice for rape victims. We held two street actions named “Rape is crime without the Cause” on the occasion of rape case in Niš and inadequate response of the local, as well as the republic institutions and media to this case.
We finished January with street action dedicated to prevention of cervical cancer and participated in one big street action that included women representatives of 30 different organizations that make The Network of Women Against Violence, where we raised awareness on the topic of femicide and rape as two of the most horrific types of violence that girls and women in Serbia experience. We started February with interactive lectures held by the gynecologist, for girls students of elementary school in Nis, as well as with second set of Empowering Self-Defence workshops.
Our work also included supporting children, girls and women through the SOS telephone for women and children who are victims of violence and/or human trafficking.
“Rape is a crime that has to be taken seriously in Serbia”
Around twenty activists and friends of the Center for Girls held a street action called "Rape is a crime that must be taken seriously in Serbia", on the occasion of a sensationalistic interview with a convicted rapist published by Informer, but also on the occasion of all other unethical reporting by print and online media about sexual violence.
The street action was seen by over 1500 people and on that occasion many of our fellow citizens gave us words of support. On the banners we held, messages could be read that rape is not a joke, that rape is a crime that must be taken seriously in Serbia, that rape is a criminal offense for which the penalties should be increased. We asked for life sentences for rapists of minors, as well as the responsibility of media for the ways in which they report on rape, which directly contributes to the stigmatization and re-traumatization of the victims and deepens the culture of rape.
European Day Against Human Trafficking
Over two thousand people saw the street action of the Center for Girls, held on the occasion of the European Day against Human Trafficking.
On that occasion, fellow citizens could read the messages "Forced criminal acts are human trafficking", "Forced marriage is human trafficking", "Forced labour is human trafficking", "Forced begging is human trafficking", while the song "Cep" by Marko Šelic Marcelo, which talks about the experience of a victim of human trafficking, was playing from the speakers the entire time. Several female activists were in charge of informing people about this topic and distributing pamphlets, which provide useful information about what human trafficking is, what its forms are, who the traffickers and victims are, how to protect yourself from human trafficking and who to report it to.
Human trafficking is a serious crime that involves buying and selling a person for the purpose of exploiting them. Anyone can be a trafficker or a victim of human trafficking, although the trafficker is usually a person whom the victim knows and trusts. Human trafficking includes: forced prostitution (sexual exploitation), forced labor (labor exploitation), forced begging, forced marriage, forced domestic work, forced criminal acts, organ trafficking (forced harvesting of organs for their sale).
25th Femicide in Serbia in 2022 – Performance for little Petra
Activists of the Center for Girls in Niš held a street action on the occasion of the femicide that happened in Vršac, when a father killed his 2-year-old daughter, drowning her in a bucket of water, after the Center for Social Work allowed him to see the child, even though the girl's mother reported domestic violence several times in the past.
We demanded that those who worked on this case be fired and prosecuted, that the state take violence against girls and women seriously, and that femicide gets recognized as a special crime. Four thousand people saw the action, about three thousand of them stopped to read the banners, and many filmed, took pictures, asked questions and gave words of support, but unfortunately, there were also inappropriate comments that relativized the violence.
“SAFE” – Empowering Self-Defence Workshops for girls and women in Niš
The Center for Girls started "SAFE – Empowered girls and women to feel safer in public spaces in Niš", supported by UN Women.
Center for Girls will carry out activities aimed at examining the safety of women and girls in public spaces in Niš, mapping unsafe locations, educating and empowering women and girls to defend themselves against all forms of violence, but also to gain self-confidence and verbal and non-verbal communication skills in order to protect themselves against violence in public spaces, as well as informing the public and institutions about the problem of violence against women in public spaces, and proposing solutions to improve the safety of women in Niš.
First two sets of workshops were conducted with girls and women aged 24 to 30 and later with one group of highschool students, aged 15 to 18. We will work with girls at other Nis’ high schools and faculties, as well as with local institutions, all with the goal of making Nis a safer city for girls and women. Girls will have the opportunity to learn how to be assertive, say NO, recognize potential violent situations, seek help and get away. They’ll learn techniques and punches that will help them to defend themselves from physical attack, and they’ll learn communication formula for potential verbal conflicts, as well.
Peer education on the topic of trafficking in human beings continued
Center for Girls' activists, Mina and Mila, conducted five workshops on the topic of human trafficking in Niš high schools, as well as at the Feminist-Activist Camp, as a part of the activities of Anti-Trafficking Network, and on that occasion educated their peers.
Through interactive activities and discussion, the participants of the workshops had the opportunity to find out what human trafficking is, what are its forms, who are traffickers and who can be a victim, what are the methods of recruitment, how to recognize human trafficking, how to protect yourself, and who to report to if you have a suspicion of human trafficking. Through these five workshops, the participants received the necessary knowledge on how to protect themselves and others from human trafficking.
Activists who conducted the workshops were trained to lead workshops on the topic of human trafficking as part of the capacity building training of the AT network.
Continuation of the performing of educational theater on human trafficking
A team of seven young high school students performed twelve educational theaters in nine high schools and one elementary school in Niš.
On that occasion, the male and female students who attended the theater had the opportunity to watch the scenes, and then ask the characters questions. In this way, they learned what human trafficking is, what are its forms and methods of recruitment, who can be a trafficker, and who can be a victim. They learned how to recognize human trafficking, how to protect themselves, how to check all information before traveling abroad and who to contact if they suspect human trafficking.
The theaters were performed as part of the project "Protect The Youth in Niš From Human Trafficking", supported by the US Embassy in Belgrade.
"Women's Graveyard" performance in 10 cities within 16 days of activism
This year's 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women campaign has the theme of stopping femicide.
Activists of the Center for Girls marked 16 days of activism by performing the performance "Women's Graveyard", which is about femicide, in 10 cities in Serbia - Uzice, Tutin, Vlasotince, Leskovac, Dimitrovgrad, Kraljevo, Aleksinac, Niš, Kragujevac and Kruševac.
Tatjana N., Marija V., Jana T., Isidora P., Jelena V., Sara P., Ilijana Š., Suzana V., Nela ., Mina Z., Dragana T. P., Petra M., Mila S., Nina Z. , Jasmina M., Mila ., Teodora M., Sanja K., Suncica H., Marta S. and Emilija I. M., Maja D. i Katarina M. traveled 1,971 kilometers, and the artist Jelena P. joined them for one of the performances.
The performance was performed in cooperation with the organizations: Women's Center (Uzice), Impuls (Tutin), SOS telephone for women and children victims of violence (Vlasotince), Women for Peace (Leskovac), Independent Women's Center (Dimitrovdgrad), Phenomena - The Power of Change ( Kraljevo), Association of Roma Women "NADA" (Aleksinac), Oasis of Safety (Kragujevac) and Pešcanik (Kruševac).
The performance was seen by over 11,000 passers-by, over 4,000 informative pamphlets were distributed, and our activities were seen online by over 75,000 people. In Kraljevo, we also received a hug that we will remember for a long time.
Many people have given us words of support. In Uzice, we were approached by a woman whose daughter was killed. Tutin will be remembered for the boy on a bicycle who, holding a pamphlet about femicide, went around the entire formation and carefully read all the names we carried. In Kraljevo, we received a hug that we will remember for a long time.
The performance is supported by International narcotics & law enforcement, the US Embassy and the Global Fund for Women.
One Billion Rising 2023: Rise for Freedom
Center for Girls marked the beginning of this year's One Billion Rising campaign with several activities, such as empowering self-defense workshop and numerous street actions dedicated to girls and women from all around the world breaking their invisible chains.
Eleven girls participated in an empowering self-defense workshop, which was held as part of 16 days of activism and the global campaign One Billion Rising 2023: Rise for Freedom. The workshop was held outdoors, in the pleasant surroundings of the Fortress.
Girls went through a series of physical self-defense exercises, three punches and five techniques. All techniques were carried out with the principle of run and shout.
This year marks 10 years since Eve Ensler launched this campaign, and at the same time 25 years since the whole world started performing "Vagina's Monologues". On that occasion, a short video about the empowering self-defense workshop was recorded, accompanied by the song "Break the Chain", which is also the official song of this campaign. The video was recorded and edited by Boban R. Several street actions were also held on this occasion.
Recognize the Human Trafficking and Report It
Over 1,500 people saw the street action "Recognize human trafficking", which was carried out by about fifteen activists of the Center for Girls in Obrenoviceva Street in the center of Niš.
The action consisted of performance, banner holding and sharing informative material.
The performance "Recognize Human Trafficking and Report It" talks about what human trafficking is, what its forms are, how to recognize human trafficking, protect yourself from it and who to report it to, and it was performed by our youngest activists.
During the action, over 600 pamphlets were distributed.
Interactive lectures for teachers in Nis’ High Schools
In ten secondary schools in Nis, where a team of seven young people performed educational theaters in front of their peers, interactive lectures on human trafficking were held for over a hundred teachers.
The teachers had the opportunity to learn about the results of the project and what their students learned through the theaters, but also to gain the necessary knowledge about human trafficking, how to recognize it, who to report it to, and how to protect it. himself and the students.
At the lectures, the teachers first watched a video of the educational theater, and then attended a presentation with useful information about human trafficking and methods of prevention and protection. Each group of teachers was also given papers with guidelines and indicators for easier recognition of the risk of human trafficking among students.
Many teachers were very interested in the topic. One teacher expressed his wish for cooperation in the field of suppression of forced begging in Niš, and several teachers also asked for video materials, in order to show them to students who did not have the opportunity to attend the theaters, as well as to their colleagues.
The meetings were held as part of the project "Protecting youth in Nis from human trafficking", supported by the American Embassy in Belgrade.
Performance “Women’s Graveyard” – 27 girls/women killed in 2022
More than 5,000 people saw the performance "Women's Graveyard", which we performed in Obrenoviceva Street in Niš, on the occasion of two more femicides that happened in the span of just eight days.
Various informative pamphlets that talk about femicide, contain the wheel of violence and provide information on SOS phone numbers for women and children victims of violence were distributed to fellow citizens.
During this year, 27 girls and women were killed in Serbia by their fathers, husbands, partners, brothers, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and the youngest victim of femicide was only 2 years old.
In Serbia, one woman is killed every 10 days.
FEMICIDE is the murder of a woman simply because she is a woman. It is associated with discrimination against women, unequal distribution of power between men and women, prejudice and violence against women.
The performance was supported by the Global Fund for Women.
Rape is a crime withpout the cause!
Two street actions named “Rape is a crime without a cause” were held in the span of less than seven days.
First time, about twenty activists and fellow citizens participated, on a rainy day, in the street action "Rape is a crime", which was organized across the street from the Basic Court in Niš by the Center for Girls, on the occasion of the inadequate treatment of the institutions in the investigation of the case of rape in Niš. More than 1000 passers-by saw the street action. There were also numerous comments, many fellow citizens filmed and photographed the action even from the bus, and one passer-by came up to give us a hand and say words of support.
Second time, around ten activists and fellow citizens, took part in the second street action of the Center for Girls "Rape is a crime without a cause", on the occasion of the failure of the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Niš to respond to the public appeals to come forward with verified information and investigate the manner in which officials treated the girl who reported rape, especially the multiple taking of statements and the use of polygraphs, which can lead to secondary victimization of the victim and discourage girls and women who would report rape in the future.
Over 1000 passers-by saw the street action. Many of them stopped, took pictures, and commented. There were a lot of words of support, and some of the fellow citizens stopped to talk to us, commenting on the credibility of the polygraph as a means of proving the truthfulness of statements, the attitude of institutions and the media towards rape victims. Some of the comments we received were: "Well done", "You wrote it well, but is anyone going to read it", "There is no stopping; fight, go in the public with it as much as you can", "I support you"...
The participants of the actions held banners with messages:
Rape is a crime without cause.
What is the purpose of the polygraph in Niš?
Secondary victimization is a practice in institutions in Serbia.
Maximum penalties for rapists.
Life sentences for rapists of minors!
Stop violence against girls/women.
Several media postals, newspapers and televisions covered our street actions.
Network od Women Against Violence - Street Action to raise awareness on femicide and rape
Twenty-eight activists from organizations that together make the Network of Women Against Violence participated in the street action, from which they sent messages:
Rape is a crime without reason.
Secondary victimization is a practice in institutions in Serbia.
What is the purpose of the polygraph in Niš?
Life sentences for rapists of minors.
Increase the penalties for the crime of rape.
Femicide is the killing of a woman just because she is a woman.
Not one woman less, not one dead more!
We remind the country that it signed the Istanbul Convention.
We demand that femicide be a separate crime.
We ask the state to take a serious approach to violence against women and children.
Women have the right to live without violence!
Stop violence against girls/women!
The action was organized by the Center for Girls, on the occasion of the inadequate treatment of the institutions in the investigation of the case of rape in Niš and on the occasion of the increasingly frequent femicide in Serbia.
More than 1,500 passers-by saw the street action. There were numerous comments, many fellow citizens filmed and photographed the action and gave words of support.
17th European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
Center for girls organized different activities, to mark the 17th European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Over 1,000 people saw the street action held by the activists in Obrenoviceva Street in the center of Niš. Over 600 pamphlets with information about the HPV virus, vaccines that protect against it, and regular gynecological examinations were distributed to fellow citizens.
With the help of transparencies, we sent messages:
Going to a regular gynecological examination can save your life.
If detected early, cervical cancer is 100% curable.
In Serbia, 1 woman dies every day, and 4 fall ill from cervical cancer.
Women in Serbia are 5th in terms of getting sick, and 2nd in terms of dying from cervical cancer in Europe.
HPV vaccines that protect against cervical cancer are finally free for girls and boys ages 9 to 19.
Interactive lecture on reproductive health
Center for Girls organized two interactive lectures for 7th and 8th grade students, held by gynecologist Merima A. at “Car Konstantin” Elementary School. The girls had the opportunity to learn more about menstruation, gynecological examination, HPV vaccines, polycystic ovaries, protection during intercourse and consent. The students later asked a number of excellent questions. Informative pamphlets were distributed to them, as well.
We will continue to work hard, think creative and stand in solidarity with all girls and women.
Rape is a Crime That Has to be Taken Seriously
European Day Against Human Trafficking
Street Action dedicated to little Petra
Street action dedicated to little Petra
SAFE: Empowering Self-Defense workshops
Human trafficking prevention workshops
Educational theaters on human trafficking
16 Days of Activism - Women's Graveyard
One Billion Rising: Rise for Freedom street action
One Billion Rising, self-defense workshop
Recognize the Human Trafficking and Report It
Interactive lectures for teachers
Women's Graveyard - 27 femicides in 2022
Rape is a Crime Without a Reason
European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
Network of Women Against Violence, street action
Lecture on the topic of the reproductive health