The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate on the internet 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.
Our January Troll of the Month is Gazeta Insajderi, an online website in Kosovo, which spreads misogyny, sexism and false information in relation to a recent murder by a husband of his wife in Lauša/Laushë, Kosovo.
On January 5th, in the village of Lauša/ Laushë, in the municipality of Srbica/Skenderaj in Kosovo, L.Q was murdered by her husband. In response to this murder, ‘Gazeta Insajderi’ a news website published a reference to an unnamed source and statement claiming that the woman was killed as she had supposedly cheated on her husband. This was then shared by numerous outlets on their websites as well as on their social networks. ‘Gazeta Projekti’ even used the headline “the motive for the murder of a woman by her husband is cheating”. Such speculation about cheating and fraud, especially if they are made part of a headline indirectly results in the justification of the case and murder of a woman by her husband.
As a response to the media headlines and articles regarding the case, several people commented on social media questioning the validity of those claims.
According to police reports in Kosovo, the woman who was killed had suffered both physical and psychological violence for several years. According to a statement by her son, in August last year, her husband had tried to kill her, however, she decided not to report the case to the police. On January 1st, she reported domestic violence to the police but was not given adequate protection. Her husband was arrested but released shortly after at the request of his lawyer in order to allow for a psychological examination of his client. The State Prosecutor’s Office requested that the necessary actions be taken against the prosecutor and judges involved in the case.
Unfortunately, cases of domestic violence of women in Kosovo are not treated as serious crimes in Kosovo and courts generally impose very small, symbolic sentences in cases of violence and murder towards women with the exception of life sentences in some cases of murders of women. According to Kosovo Police, the number of domestic violence cases rose from 1,915 in 2019 to 2,020 in 2020. Officially, 6 women have been killed by their partners in 2020. Institutions such as the police are responsible for the protection of victims of violence and for the prevention of such cases. However, they have so far failed to apply and implement such protection.
Following the case, Kosovo women’s rights activists have come forward and “requested the maximum punishment” for the murder of L.Q. This came in response to the large number of femicides, killing of women and girls because of their gender, in the country and low sentences given as a result of such crimes.
By promoting and publishing headlines and accusations of fraud and cheating in relation to any act of violence and murder towards both women and men, the media indirectly lead to the justification of such acts. By perpetuating misogynistic and sexist narratives the issue at hand is flipped over in a manner which justifies violent behaviour and places blame on the victim. Media headlines built upon speculation run the risk of downplaying the issue at hand. Media institutions hold both a responsibility and moral obligation to publish objective information and remain unbiased when reporting on events especially in relation to public crimes and murder.