WAVE Youth Ambassador from Serbia on the uprising against sexual violence in the Balkans

Our WAVE Youth Ambassador from Serbia is standing in solidarity with the strong and brave women of the Balkan region who are speaking out against sexual violence. We must continue to shed light on the uprising against sexual violence in the Balkans and ensure that the survivors’ voices are being heard! #NisiSama For more information on what is happening in the Balkans, please click here! The video is in Serbian and the summarized English translation is below.

Hello everyone. My name is Teodora Stojilkovic, I am 18 years old and I am currently the WAVE Ambassador [from Serbia]. What I am going to talk about today is sexual harassment and that completely new movement in Serbia [that regional #metoo movement] that started with Marija Lukic who was the first to report a person in power, who sexually harassed her at work and sent her disturbing messages. Then it continued with actress Daniela Stajnfeld, and now, in January 2021, it is with actress Milena Radulovic and a huge number of other actresses and women who participate in this movement, who are bravely stepping forward [and] are talking about their experience [so] that no other woman goes through this again. When Milena was 17, she was raped by famous acting professor Miroslav Aleksic, and countless other girls in his acting school. When Milena stepped forward, the first comments under this news were – “Why now?”, “Why when she is famous?”, “Why not earlier?”. And that is one of the reasons why victims don’t step forward earlier.. or ever [in their life]. Because we do not trust them, because our first reaction is “Why just now, and not earlier?”. It is however incredibly important that with all of our strength we are there for the victims [and] trust them, hold their hands and change the world with them. What this case started in Serbia was that incredible avalanche of support from various women, men, people who were ready to support. Then, the Facebook group “Nisam trazila” was created, which in a few days gained thousands and thousands of likes and confessions from women from the whole Balkan region of what they’re going through every day. Research from Autonomni ženski centar (autonomous women center) has shown over 1/3 of students experience this kind of violence in universities.
What does this tells us? It tells us that violence is everywhere and that it is most likely hidden. Oftentimes, this kind of violence is perpetuated by people in power, but this kind of violence is perpetuated by our neighbors, our professors, our acquaintances as well. [It also shows] that violence exists everywhere. That is why it is imperative to stand strongly with victims, to be there for them and to believe them. There was a group recently formed “Ja ti verujem” (I believe you), as well as the social media hashtag #NisiSama (you are not alone), as indeed, women cannot be [fighting] alone, and what this #MeToo movement has started is something indescribable, something that will change Serbia as well as the Balkans, because we are [finally] talking. What I think is crucial to mention is that if you are experiencing this kind of violence in Serbia, there is a number you can call, and you will be given advice and support. The number is – 0800100007 [from Autonomni zenski centar] and there are trained women who will help you to go through this process.