The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.

In the city of Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a husband killed his wife and then committed suicide. This incident was picked up and reported by most of the media within the country, one of which was Dnevni avaz – an info portal and newspaper. The headline reported by Dnevni avaz read ‘The Alliance said goodbye to Mehmedović: He was a member of the Army of BiH, winner of the war recognition ‘Golden Lily’ badge’. The coverage itself continues to note how the perpetrator was a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army during the war after which he was presented with a war recognition for his actions. Furthermore, the story goes on to mention the association that gathers all the winners of this award came out with a statement emphasising his merits and actions. Amongst all this, no mention of the victim of the crime was reported or discussed.

The same portal published another headline which claimed to have ‘discovered’ more personal achievements of the perpetrator. The headline mentioned the perpetrator, who alongside receiving the war award was also ‘the father of football player Sloboda’. The article then talked about the order of events of the crime, concluding with the recent discovery that the perpetrator was indeed the father of a football player for FK Sloboda Tuzla, described as a talented young football player.

Most of the media within the country reported on this incident in a very similar manner, focusing primarily on the perpetrator and his personal achievements in reference to his war recognition and background. By focusing exclusively on the perpetrator and his achievements, with minimal reference to his crime, only aims to revitalise gender-based violence which should be the focus of such reporting. In this instance, femicide is presented as an incident rather than a consequence of continuous violence towards women. The coverage of this femicide by Dnevni avaz and others, only further spreads this rhetoric and, overall, contributes to the relativisation of femicide.  

This is yet another example of the media’s role and contribution in the relativisation of femicide. Rather than focusing on the crime itself and gender-based violence as a social issue, headlines chose to focus on the perpetrator by highlighting his success during his lifetime whilst simultaneously glossing over his recent violent act. Presenting crimes such as this with headlines which glorify the perpetrator at the expense of the victim of the crime is extremely harmful. This type of media coverage only undermines the issue at hand rather than drawing public attention and focus to the widespread phenomenon of violence towards women; a societal issue which needs to be tackled and reacted to appropriately. It is crucial that the media, when reporting on cases of femicide, addresses the crime as femicide and educates the public on this topic.

Gender-based violence is an issue which is deep rooted in ‘centuries of adherence to the patriarchal value system’, one which has received growing attention and media coverage. According to the Secretary General of the Association of BiH Journalists, Borka Rudić, this sensationalist approach, which is seen in both the headlines and language of journalists, is indeed a form of ‘violation of the dignity of the victim‘ and ‘contrary to professional and ethical journalism’.

This inappropriate media attitude towards violence against women and lack of adherence to professional standards when reporting on femicide is extremely evident in the media and wider environment. RDN 2.0 continues to stress the importance of reporting in accordance with professional, ethnical journalistic practices and standards in order to prevent the relativisation of femicide and highlight the importance of tackling violence against women.