CEMI - Centar za monitoring i istraživanje

To essential gender equality by changing the value pattern

09. Feb. 2024. in news

There is no essential equality between men and women and therefore it is necessary to change value concepts, treat the issue of gender equality always and everywhere, work on education, increase media literacy from the earliest age and sanction those who spread hate speech.

That's the message from the panel "What can we do about online violence against women in politics?" within the conference "Hate speech and online violence on the political scene of Montenegro - How to create a safer online space for women?", organized by the Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI).

The Deputy Ombudsperson, Nerma Dobardzic, is clear that there is no essential equality between men and women, and that is why it is necessary for everyone, from their point of view, to contribute to the strengthening of essential gender equality.

"Hate speech is a form of discrimination. We are talking about sexist and misogynistic speech, based on gender, and it means that it is a form of discrimination. In practice, we noticed that hate speech is processed through the Law on Public Order and Peace", said Dobardzic.

She believes that hate speech should be prosecuted in accordance with the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination.

She pointed out that misogynistic and sexist speech, according to women recognized in the public, is very present in the online space, spreads easily and moves from the online space to real life.

"The Constitution of Montenegro and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms guarantee the right to freedom of expression. However, freedom of expression is not an absolute right and it is true that in paragraph 2 there are limitations and hate speech cannot be defended with freedom of speech", Dobardzic is unequivocal.

The key, as she said, is to solve the problem of unregistered portals, which have not assumed legal obligations.

"Primarily, we need to work on education and sanctions, that is, an adequate response. Because we have conventions, international standards, but these should be consistently applied in practice", Dobardzic explained clearly.

The State Secretary in the Ministry of Education in the 43rd Government of Montenegro, Milijana Vukotic Jelusic, believes that the contributions of women are not viewed in the same way as the contributions of men and that women, due to the roles they need to balance, are expected to be weak links in the public space.

"As a society, we need to change value concepts. Therefore, changing the value pattern is the key thing, and the normative-legal framework is another thing. The problem is the political context we live in, what is dominantly present in the media is that only men are asked about politics", said Vukotic Jelusic.

Freedom of speech, as she pointed out, is a democratic right that should be inherited and preserved, but we should always remember that "our freedom ends where the freedom of another person begins."

"I advocate long-term strategies, which make sense, which restore our values, culture and every other being. We need to have teachers who will treat the issue of gender equality always and everywhere, as well as the issue of peer violence, social-emotional intelligence. Also, when a journalist recognizes online violence, he should make a topic out of it. That should be the main topic. Public debate is very important. We have to reach ordinary people, the local levels are very important, because the first discouragement of women starts at the local level", explained Vukotic Jelusic.

Program coordinator at the Media Institute of Montenegro, Vesna Rajkovic Nenadic, believes that, when it comes to gender equality, the situation is worse than before and that we live in a time of strengthening ethno-nationalism, clero-nationalism, strong influence of the church and in "all countries where the influence of the church is strong there is a regression when it comes to gender equality and the position of women".

"If a woman does not inherit civil values, she cannot inherit gender equality either, whether she is a minister, a member of parliament, a journalist, or a woman who works in a supermarket. Gender equality is not a women's issue, but an issue for society as a whole", Rajkovic Nenadic is clear.

According to her, the state does not have a solution for unregistered portals, and what exists as a legal solution is that judicial authorities should be strengthened to recognize what hate speech is, where the border is and to react proactively.

Rajkovic Nenadic pointed out that there are no elements of hate speech in the editorial content of Montenegrin established media.

"Each of our research has shown that, and I am proud of the Montenegrin established media. The big problem is the media from Serbia, which are read here and are very influential," said Rajkovic Nenadic.

He believes that it is very difficult to determine where freedom of speech begins and ends.

Rajković Nenadic also believes that education from an early age is key.

"It is crucial to work with young people. It is very important that media literacy is accessible to everyone. Online hate speech very easily turns into hate in the offline space, and that is a very serious issue, and the state must devote itself more seriously to that problem. And hate speech must be punished", is Rajkovic Nenadic’s message.

The conference was held as part of the project "Contribution to the increase of female political activism in Montenegro", which is implemented by CeMI with the support of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro.

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