Belgrade, December 14, 2021 – For digital space to become safer for all, it is important to speak out against online violence aimed at women and girls, to send the message that survivors are not responsible for the violence they suffered and to support survivors. These are the main conclusions of participants of the panel “Online violence has real life consequences. #ItISMyBusiness” (#TičeMeSe), organized today at the Hilton Belgrade hotel, by Ringier Axel Springer and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Serbia.
In her opening speech, Francine Pickup, UNDP Serbia Resident Representative, pointed out that women, compared to men, were disproportionately affected by discrimination, harassment and violence, both online and in the physical world.
„Online violence has a real-life impact on mental and physical health, it can escalate to physical attacks and can be a prolongation of violence that first occurred in direct contact. At the same time, digital space is important for networking, learning and creating, as well as for the empowerment of women and girls. That is why it must become equally safe for both women and men and provide them with equal opportunities to access information and knowledge and equal opinion exchange and participation in public life. Only such digital space benefits all of society and contributes to the achievement of gender equality,” Ms. Pickup stated.
To contribute to a better understanding of the problem of online violence against women and girls and to encourage the wider environment to support those experiencing such violence, the panel topics included the definition of online violence, how to recognize it, the consequences it leaves, how to report it and to whom, as well as how to support women and girls exposed to it.
These topics were discussed by Mirjana Stajkovac, deputy public prosecutor at the Special Prosecution Office for High Tech Crime, Anita Pantelić, activist of the Alternative Centre for Girls in Kruševac, Ivana Perić, psychotherapist and activist of the SOS Women’n Centre in Novi Sad, Mirjana Vladisavljević, director of Balkan Tube Fest and youtuber Marija Nikolić.
The panel discussion is a follow-up to the “ItIsMyBusiness“ campaign, which UNDP has been running for three years to mark the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence“. The aim of the campaign is to contribute to the creation of a society that does not tolerate violence against women, and this year its focus has been on informing on the consequences of online violence against women and encouraging support to survivors of this dimension of violence.
The “Tiče me se“ (It IS my business) campaign is part of the project “Integrated Response to Violence Against Women and Girls in Serbia III” jointly implemented by UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, led by the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, and with the support of the Government of Sweden.