CARE International Balkans expresses its unconditional support to all women who have bravely decided to report sexual harassment and abuse and thus point to the problems deeply rooted in our societies. Everyone has the right to life free of sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse but also a responsibility to prevent such misconduct.
The countries in the Balkans region are still deeply patriarchal societies and unequal power s distribution reflected in gender norms shaping the lives of girls and women, but also boys and men in a way to follow the established patterns of silence and acceptance, because ‘it has always been this way.’ There is an evident lack of opposition to those who are in a position of power, both in our family’s relations and in the workplace as well as institutional and educational environment.
It is important to acknowledge that violence, harassment, and abuse unfortunately occur on a daily basis and that most girls and women are not ready to report or go public. With her public disclosure, Milena Radulović has managed to open a space for dialogue and draw our attention to these problems. She has become a symbol of the need for investment in all segments of a genuine survivor-centered approach, including prevention, supervision and improvement of survivor protection procedures – which remains an issue for all of us, citizens, organizations dealing with the protection of human rights but also state institutions that need to engage with greater sensitivity and readiness to act.
We strongly support initiatives from across the region to report perpetrators that have gained prominence after Milena’s courageous response, and we believe this is the way to bring this topic to the forefront.
CARE urges all organizations, whether private or public, to strengthen their monitoring and direct support policies and develop systems that target all survivors of any form of sexual violence, harassment, exploitation, and abuse, and encourage them to report.
We appeal to all media, portals and other communication channels to respect the privacy and dignity of all those who report this act in order to protect them, as well as to all citizens on social networks to contribute to avoiding re-victimization of trauma survivors, but also injuries to third parties that occur directly / indirectly in cases. Sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation are not obsolete and we appeal to everyone to refrain from entering into analyzes of the moment of reporting.
We expect from authorities to improve the system and to act impartially, to offer example for other survivors of violence to rely on institutions, just as we expect the perpetrators to be prosecuted and adequately punished.
The education system is the first stage of socialization after family, which shapes children and young people and teaches them norms of behavior and therefore CARE through its long work with young people insists on changing social norms and behavior, with special focus on young men and boys and educational staff on capacity building for gender equality, non-violence and healthy lifestyles.
No person seeks to be abused, harassed, or exploited, nor can they be blamed for the violence perpetrated against them.