Letter for Mintas Hodak

CENTRE FOR WOMEN WAR VICTIMS 

Radnički dol 20, 10000 Zagreb

Tel/fax: 01/ 48 23 258

 

Commission of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for Gender Equality

Mrs. Ljerka Mintas Hodak

Fax: 01/ 53 53 53

Zagreb, June 26, 1998

 

Dear Mrs. President,

We would like to draw your attention and ask the Commission to publicly react to recent, and more than inappropriate, media attacks against activists of women’s nongovernmental organizations, i.e. against Rada Borić and Vesna Kesić, and indirectly against all women who deal with women and civil initiatives, as well as against women whom we work with.

In his column “Patriotic naggings” in Večernji list under the heading “Them” published on June 14, Milan Ivkošić accused Mrs. Rada Borić that in her appearance in the TV show “Press klub” on June 10, she “said several serious condemnations about the state of Croatian society and, among other things, pointed out that the violence had transferred from the battlefield to the family, to violence against women”.

With regards to her viewpoint, he accused her of “distorting the image of the Croatian War of Independence”, and that she has “actually openly defended the position of the Great Serbian aggressor in the show”.

We believe that such “conclusions” represent a targeted attack on the person and work of Mrs. Borić and that this political disqualification is indirectly very dangerous because it makes way for hate speech and public lynching of people who have different views.

This discourse also discriminates other activists on the basis of their nationalities and arbitrary, political and nonsense judgments – “when it is a well-known fact that more than eighty per cent of activists from women’s and similar marginal organizations are Serbian women and the remaining percentage are more-or-less Croatian women who come from Yugoslav Secret Police, Yugoslav Police and Yugo-officer’s political and family milieus”.

What can you say about this kind of discourse for which we believed was long used-up in a democratic Croatia?

Article 147 of the Penal Code states that discrimination on the ground of gender is liable to sanctions. And Mr. Ivkošić is ruthlessly attacking the female sex (gender) and women’s rights to choose …“the total opposite of the desirable Croatian family (many of them are married and without children, or old and single, etc.)”, “...because they are lesbians”.

Women’s organizations are also being accused that without foreign support (thus degrading the international awards we have received for our work on democratization of society, such as the highly-regarded award of the European Union and the USA given to B.a.B.e. recently or the peace award World Healing Award – Mohammed Ali Foundation given to the Centre for Women War Victims as the only women’s group in the world out of 66 nominated) they would have no importance at all.

All in all, every accusation from “Yugo-political organizations” to “degenerative activities towards women...” to “anti-women” must not be left without a response.

We are interested in knowing who needs such evaluations of women who have spent many years persistently, professionally and adequately working on the empowerment of women, working with displaced women, refugees, women who have survived violence and local women’s initiatives, trying to improve the material and political status of women in Croatia and the process of democratization.

We do not even have to mention how this article can harm our work with women who immensely need our support and help.

If women are persistently attacked for BEING women, is Croatia then just declaratively standing behind its guaranteed equality of women (and minorities and “similar marginal organizations”)?

We ask that you publicly react to the article by Mr. Ivkošić.

We will take the necessary steps to inform the international public on this hate speech expressed against women, women’s organizations, female activists, and similar incidents and non/reactions to them.

Women from:

Autonomous Women’s House Zagreb

Centre for Women War Victims, Zagreb

Kontra, Zagreb

Footsteps of Hope, Split

Women’s group Mali Lošinj

Women’s group Poreč

Women’s action Rijeka

Women’s group of ToD, Zagreb 

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