Monthly Monitoring Highlights February: sexism, gender-based violence, anti-migrant rhetoric, ethnic discrimination, and hatred towards journalists

March 20, 2024

Throughout February, the RDN monitoring team has detected a range of hateful narratives and discourse. This month, we have seen hatred based on gender, ethnicity as well as the spread of anti-migrant rhetoric and hatred towards journalists.

Sexism in Serbia

In Serbia, on Insajder TV, actress Ljubinka Klarić was a guest on the show Treća smena (Third shift), where she talked about her various professional acting roles, but where she also touched upon the topic of gender equality and feminism. She shared her beliefs, including some common stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding gender and feminism, claiming women have already fully established their rights and that there is no inequality in Serbia or Europe today. However, this is far from the reality. Klarić spoke from a privileged standpoint, demonstrating a profound lack of awareness regarding the challenges faced by women who do not share her social, economic, or geographical circumstances. The assertion that women universally do not face struggles is not only ignorant but also dismissive of the diverse experiences and systemic marginalisation faced by countless women across the globe.

Furthermore, when discussing gender-based violence, Klarić shifted the responsibility to the victim, claiming that it is up to the victim to come out and speak up about the violence they endure. She claimed that “it’s your choice whether you’re going to suffer silently or speak up and say, hey stop, this man is beating me”. Whilst it is important for women to speak up about the violence they endured or are still going through, it is a much more complex issue than simply “deciding to speak up”. Advocating for women to simply speak up about the violence they endure overlooks the complex dynamics of gender-based violence, which often acts as a barrier and challenge for victims to come forward.

In response to Klarić’s claims, one of the hosts, Una Senić, reacted accordingly by pointing out that the views of Klarić need to include insights from women from diverse backgrounds and circumstances including the various factors and circumstances which have led to their marginalised position within society. This was a great example of how journalists should recognise and challenge harmful narratives coming from the people they are interviewing, even during live shows. Nevertheless, it is still important to highlight the problem behind Klarić’s rhetoric; as an individual who has a large platform and audience, Klarić should refrain from disseminating harmful rhetoric regarding victims of gender-based violence as well as recognise that the experiences of women globally are diverse and are not all universally shared.

Gender based violence in Albania and Kosovo

In Albania, footage emerged of a 34-year-old man who kept his wife isolated inside their house with surveillance cameras and was seen pushing his wife in front of their children. The footage and images were shared by popular media outlets such as TV Klan and Top Channel and subsequently spread by other media outlets, including Vizion Plus and Ora News, which also drew attention on social media. While the footage and images, even in their blurred state, were intended to highlight domestic violence, their dissemination crosses the boundary into sensationalism and significantly deviates from the principles of responsible journalism. Airing such sensitive material without considering its psychological impact on the children, the woman involved, and the audience at large constitutes a profound ethical lapse. It is crucial to recognise that this content, once circulated on social media, becomes permanently etched in the digital realm, perpetually exposing the women and minors involved to re-traumatization and emotional distress.

Media outlets, including TV Klan and Top Channel, should adhere to professional ethics and moral obligations, eschewing the publication of content that graphically showcases aggression and physical violence against women and children. This type of journalism not only normalises domestic violence but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes, reducing a serious issue to a viral phenomenon driven by clicks and shares and undermining efforts to address gender-based violence. Media platforms must exercise ethical responsibility and refrain from sensationalising such acts, prioritising the protection and respect of individuals’ rights and well-being.

Responsible journalism should seek to inform and educate the public, maintaining a commitment to uphold the dignity and privacy of individuals, especially victims of gender-based violence. By doing so, journalists and media outlets can contribute positively to societal awareness and understanding, fostering an environment that respects and protects those affected by such reporting.

In Kosovo a case of gender-based violence was sensationalised by the media. Drenusha Latifi, former Miss Kosovo, divorced her husband because he was allegedly violent towards her. In the show, Kosova Today (which has just started broadcasting on Klan Kosova TV), she gave details of the violence and showed photos as proof of the violence she endured. She resided with her then husband in Sweden, where due to the violence allegations, her now ex-husband is prohibited from approaching her. She has since relocated to Kosovo, where her ex-husband has also moved. There, he allegedly persisted in pressuring her by publicly sharing telephone conversations on his social media profiles, leading to his detention by the Kosovo Police.

Following Latifi’s appearance on the show, the same media outlet gave the alleged suspect space to present his version of the violence, which he denied. Furthermore, he claimed that he has also engaged a lawyer.

The journalists on the other hand, were very ‘kind’ when interviewing the ex-husband. It must be noted that by inviting a man accused of violence towards his ex-wife to present his version of events risks perpetuating a harmful narrative that undermines the seriousness of domestic violence.

In general, such actions by the media can inadvertently provide a platform for abusers to further manipulate the narrative and discredit their victims, contributing to a culture of victim-blaming and impunity.

Anti-migrant rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina

At the end of February, the most read portal in Bosnia and Herzegovina,, published a biased and one-sided report about migrants crossing the border from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU. Referring to the migrants crossing the border, they commented how “migrants came up with a new illegal and violent way to enter the EU from Bosnia and Herzegovina”. The incident referred to a group of migrants who crossed at a small border crossing in a van at high-speed moving from Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the Republic of Croatia.

The online portal reported on this incident without considering the humanitarian context and current situation surrounding migration flows within the country. In the text, the announcements of the border police of BiH and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Croatia were mentioned, however, there was no description or discussion regarding the crossings themselves as was stated in the headline.

Furthermore, a few days after this article, the same portal,, published an article with a misinformative headline that stated migrants broke through the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia with a van. However, the article clearly states that the border was crossed by a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018, the media have been reporting in an unprofessional manner, with some of them spreading hatred towards migrants themselves. The media often accuses migrants of uncivilised behaviour, drug abuse, traumatising the local population, constant fights and robbing citizens. This is a means of fearmongering and fuelling hate towards migrants through panic and accusations. As demonstrated in the headline on, the deliberate choice of words such as ‘illegal’ and ‘violent’ serves to instil fear among the public and depict migrants as inherently dangerous.

Ethnic discrimination in Montenegro

In Montenegro, the Bosniak Party proposed to Parliament to officially recognize the 1924 massacre in the village of Šahovići (now known as Tomaševo) as genocide. The massacre is considered to be the biggest crime against the Muslim population in Montenegro with an estimated 600 Muslims killed, tortured, and raped.

Montenegrin pro-Serbian politician Vladislav Dajković reacted to this proposition in an extremely hateful manner. In a video, which also appeared on his social channels, he characterised the Bosniak Party’s proposal as an intention to label Serbs as a ‘genocidal nation’. In the same video, he went on to deny the Srebrenica genocide. He continued to pose the question whether crimes towards Serbs should be labelled as genocide.

The term “genocide” carries immense weight and should never be misused or trivialized, as doing so diminishes the gravity of the atrocities committed and undermines efforts to prevent such acts from occurring again. Furthermore, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have both ruled that the massacre in Srebrenica during the Bosnian War constitutes genocide. Thereby, trivialising this in any shape or form is extremely harmful and constitutes genocide denial. Moreover, the concept of genocide should not be misused for political purposes. It is deeply flawed and morally irresponsible to extrapolate historical events to label an entire nation as genocidal. Such actions oversimplify complex historical contexts and ignore contemporary realities, hindering prospects for reconciliation and peace. Furthermore, using such sentiments to gain political support is both manipulative and harmful. Indeed, there is no such thing as ‘genocidal nation’.

The Balkan region has faced many conflicts throughout history, however, it is crucial to prioritise reconciliation over perpetuating division. An individual and politician such as Vladislav Dajković should be promoting peacebuilding and cooperation rather than division in society.

Hate speech against journalists in North Macedonia

In North Macedonia there was a case of hate speech spread by individual Milenko Nedelkovski towards staff of Vistinomer (a fact-checking initiative of the Metamorphosis Foundation). Nedelkovski, in his video post on YouTube titled “fact checkers or f*** checkers”, used his platform to spread harmful labels, hate speech and insults towards the staff of Metamorphosis. In addition to inappropriate comments and insults, he also shared photos and names of the journalists and fact-checkers. Such aggressive narratives put Metamorphosis employees at risk, as clearly shown by inappropriate comments on the post.  

Journalists and fact-checkers involved in the fact-checking programme have endured prolonged threats and hate speech, often accompanied by the dissemination of personal information and derogatory remarks. Nedelkovski himself is also a journalist who is well known for spreading hate speech. His recent post appears to be part of a concerted assault on organizations like Metamorphosis, persistently targeting both current and former staff on social media platforms for allegedly removing content from Facebook. These attacks emanate from individuals whose content has been fact-checked on Facebook, as well as from allies of the former government who hold traditional values and promote anti-vaccination and anti-LGBTIQ+ narratives.

The deliberate act of sharing individuals’ names and personal information on social media, especially in the context of an attack, is not only reprehensible but also potentially dangerous, exposing them to harassment and harm. Such behaviour not only violates privacy rights but also creates a hostile environment that undermines the safety and well-being of the journalists and fact-checkers at Metamorphosis.