Gender-based violence – responses of youth

Violence is talked about much but not enough action is taken, so it’s important for young people to raise their voices and seek solutions. During the 16 Days of Activism campaign, students and their professors from partner universities engaged in online sessions discussing methods of preventing and combating all forms of gender-based violence. Throughout November and December 2023, as part of the UNIGEM project, eight three-hour online workshops were held for eight groups led by Zilka Spahić Šiljak.

“Violence is not the way, violence is not the solution, violence breeds more violence,” were the words with which Professor Spahić Šiljak introduced discussions about various forms of gender-based violence. Every violence begins verbally, with insults and manipulation, until the victim begins to doubt themselves and loses even the little self-confidence they had. Professor Spahić Šiljak emphasized that when women come to safe houses to protect themselves from abusers, the first thing they ask therapists is if they are normal. Victims are so manipulated to the extent that they themselves are not sure what is happening to them. All sessions were simultaneously translated into English so that guests from the Master’s program in human rights could participate and contribute. It was important during plenary discussions to hear different experiences from Albania, North Macedonia, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Bulgaria and make comparisons showing that the problems are similar and that even much more developed Western countries do not have effective protection mechanisms.

In conclusion of each session, students emphasized the importance of introducing gender-based violence as a mandatory subject at universities, which has already been created and offered by partner universities, but the question remains about the willingness for full integration of such a course.