March 12, 2024

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 Kosovo, there has been a large debate and divide over the adoption of a draft law on reproductive health and medical-assisted fertilisation. The draft law covers a variety of topics surrounding reproductive health rights, including reproduction, information, and education on sexual and reproductive health alongside family planning.

The draft law was first voted in its initial reading in October 2023 with the second reading scheduled for February 22. However, the vote was consequently cancelled due to the lack of sufficient members present in the Assembly. A number of members from the Vetëvendosje (Self-determination) political party have been vocally opposed to the draft law, arguing that “a child has the right to know who his father or parents are”. Various other MPs have equally been opposed to the draft law.

Dr. Ferid Agani, a former Minister of Health and a doctor specialising in neuropsychiatry, is among the public figures expressing opposition to the draft law. During a recent debate on the show “Konfront” aired on KTV, which focused on the topic of reproductive health, Dr. Agani made an extremely harmful remark concerning single mothers. Agani claimed that women who decide to have children without a partner are “emotionally unstable”.

In response, journalist Saranda Ramaj, who participated in the debate, pointed out that it is shameful to call a woman without a partner ‘unstable’. She added: “science has made it possible for a man or a woman to enjoy parenthood. And now, to judge women, to consider them as having emotional problems because they want to have children, is more than problematic. It’s an insult to the women who are watching us. It is shameful to call a woman without a husband emotionally unstable.”

A woman should have the autonomy and choice to decide to have a child regardless of whether or not she has a partner. Commenting and labelling a woman who is a single mother as “emotionally unstable” is extremely sexist, hateful, and harmful. Furthermore, a doctor, especially one specialising in neuropsychiatry, labelling women as “emotionally unstable” perpetuates harmful stereotypes, undermines their autonomy, and disregards their agency. Dr. Ferid Agani, a former Minister of Health who held a highly respectable and important position within the Kosovan government and society, should not be using his voice and platform to spread such harmful rhetoric.