Lynching and Public Propaganda Remain a Challenge for Women in Kosovo

Women in Kosovo often face lynching and propaganda campaigns in the hours following important public appearances or after taking leadership positions. In Kosovo, there is no specific criminal offense that punishes lynching or propaganda. However, such cases that occur in the country are manifested through other criminal acts.

Women in Kosovo often face lynching and propaganda campaigns in the hours following important public appearances or after taking leadership positions. Such was the example of Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu who was elected President of Kosovo on the evening of April 4, 2021. On that night, Adrian Kastrati, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, quoted the Albanian writer Faik Konica on Facebook. Kastrati cited, “…a peasant woman with a belly like a tub and legs like a witch, with a pair of thick, ripe hands and a face swollen like the red pepper of Ohrid,” mentioning that this satirical article published in the “Dielli” newspaper in Istanbul had evoked laughter with tears.

The political and activist sphere reacted strongly to this statement. In another case, on April 12, 2021, during a sports show, football coach Tahir Batatina used sexist, insulting, and prejudicial language towards Qendresa Krelani, a sports journalist on the Public Television of Kosovo, RTK. He told Krelani, “In journalism, you can sell newspapers or clean something, but you can’t analyze football in this way… your level is not that of a journalist, starting from your appearance…”

A lynching campaign was also directed at Dafina Demaku, the editor-in-chief of the Periskopi portal and a regular analyst on KTV television. On TikTok, Demaku was described as a “pro-Serbian journalist” and a “suspected agent of the Serbian BIA.”

Why are Women Victims of Lynching?

Sociologist Genc Xërxa told BIRN that the lack of education and inadequate emancipation in relation to current civilized and human values, along with a denigrating socio-communicative awareness of mutual respect, lead individuals to resort to lynching against women. Xërxa states that in some cases, this is also rooted in “our [Kosovo’s] archaic patriarchal cultural context where that backward system sees women as subordinate and always dominated by the world of men.”

On the other hand, women’s rights activist Neri Ferizi noted that lynching language has become normalized in Kosovo. She believes this language is more commonly used against women because they are seen as easy targets and because some women avoid confrontation due to the challenging environment and potential consequences.

“This language towards women is mainly perpetuated by men. Comfortable with the privileges they enjoy and that the patriarchal system offers them, they often resort to lynching and propaganda to achieve their goals and mask their insecurities,” says Ferizi. She adds that she herself has been a victim of public lynching.

Clinical psychologist Antigona Idrizi also comments on the topic, stating that the lynching language against women, both in general and in the Kosovar context, is utilized for various reasons. These reasons reinforce patriarchal cultural influences, gender-based stereotypes, and social norms that contribute to an inadequate perception of women’s roles in society. This language conveys negative emotions, fear, and is used to devalue and minimize women’s roles as equal and productive members of society.

Measures to Prevent Lynching

Sociologist Genc Xërxa suggests steps to combat lynching. He emphasizes the need for institutional measures to prevent public insults, such as sanctions involving fines or deprivation of liberty through the justice system. He also points out that social media platforms have implemented security measures against users who engage in such behavior. Xërxa stresses that reporting violations to relevant institutions is important, and lynched women should find spaces where their roles are respected and valued.

Activist Neri Ferizi, who has previously ignored those who have targeted her with lynching, is now considering legal action against them. She believes this could make potential offenders think twice before engaging in such behavior.

Psychologist Idrizi suggests that prevention should begin in families, offering children an open environment for communication and safe models of behavior, regardless of gender. She also advocates for improving the capacities of schools, teachers, and relevant institutions to educate and raise awareness about the impact of lynching language and its psychological consequences. She emphasizes the importance of monitoring laws and policies that prohibit discrimination and lynching language in all spheres of society, ensuring their implementation by state agencies.

The Law’s Approach to Lynching

In Kosovo, there is no specific criminal offense dedicated to punishing lynching or propaganda. Instead, such cases are addressed through other criminal acts. One such offense is inciting discord and intolerance. The Kosovo Police’s statistics reveal that in 2022, a total of 11 cases were reported, and in the first three months of the current year, four cases were reported.

Article 141 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kosovo outlines the punishments for this criminal offense. The first paragraph states that anyone publicly inciting or spreading hatred, division, and intolerance between groups based on various characteristics shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment of up to five years. The second paragraph covers cases of systematic or abusive commitment of the offense, leading to serious consequences, and carries a penalty of one to eight years of imprisonment.

This publication was made possible with the financial support of the European Union. Its content is the responsibility of BIRN/Internews Kosova and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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