#MeToo in Bosnia -- why every voice matters

When a publisher offered to send his frozen sperm to a female blogger, she made his comments public. A long media silence followed, but when the story finally broke, it triggered tangible change.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Raskrinkavanje.ba
#MeToo in Bosnia -- why every voice matters - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

"Patriarchal upbringing" is a phrase still widely used in the Balkans to describe a woman of "good character" -- quiet, docile, not overtly sexual. In that context, needless to say that breaking the silence around sexual harrassment is highly unusual, whether it's reporting it to the authorities, or talking about it publicly.

When Jelena Kalinić spoke out about her experience, the media  ignored the topic. Most Bosnian journalists are usually more than happy to "report" on petty bickerings between public figures on social media, but this outing of a well-known publisher went unreported while the topic was trending on social media.

However, when two of the major media outlets in Bosnia finally reported on the story -- more than a week after it went public -- new developments followed in less than a day. The publisher announced his intention to step down from his leadership position at a publishing house and finally issued a proper apology to Kalinić.

women's issues, MeToo

Details from the story:

  • Science blogger Jelena Kalinić was offered frozen sperm by Goran Samardžić (co-owner of publishing house "Buybook"), after she reacted to his sexist comments. She posted the whole conversation on her Twitter profile on February 25.
  • It was the first public account of that kind in the Bosnian public and it immediately started a wave of reactions on social networks.
  • For days, there was a discrepancy between the social media storm and the silence of traditional media.
  • Finally, on March 5, Bosnia's oldest daily paper "Oslobođenje" published an article on the story, and "Radio Free Europe" followed a day later. 
  • Within hours, Samardžić -- who had previously issued a murky "apology" and then deleted his Facebook profile -- returned to the social network to announce that he's stepping down from his position in "Buybook" and apologized, this time specifically to Jelena Kalinić, rather than to "anyone who found themselves offended".
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