August 2018


In Sarajevo, from August 30 to September 2, 2018, TPO Foundation held a four-day Peer and Gender-Based Violence Summer School, launched in cooperation with ministries of education from three cantons: Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Central Bosnia Canton and Sarajevo Canton. The participants were pedagogues from 30 schools, ministry representatives and college assistants. The goal of the summer school was to learn more about those issues and to create an action plan for the future activities. 
For four days, the participants had the opportunity to listen to renowned lecturers: Prof. Dr. Lejla Turčilo, Prof. Dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak, Dr. Rebeka Jadranka Anić, Dr. Šejla Šehabovič, Mr. Sci. Aida Spahić, Amra Delić, a psychiatrist, Berminka Hrelja Bećirspahić, a psychoanalyst, and Borka Rudić, a journalist.
Aida Spahić
spoke on the first day of the summer school about sociology of gender, gender identities, gender perspective and gender-conscious action policies, and gender stereotypes, which play an important role in violence perpetrated against children and women. There was a special focus on the events in Croatia following the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as well as anti-gender activities around Europe in conservative church affiliations.
Rebeka Jadranka Anić and Zilka Spahić Šiljak presented some problems faced by women fighting for equality because all their activities are labeled as gender ideology and a threat to traditional family and "the natural order of things". In order to understand how the anti-gender movement works, it is important to analyze mechanisms used to disinform the public and hide the facts.
The topic of the second day of the summer school were gender and the media. Lejla Turčilo showed how important media literacy and critical approach to media content is, and since the media shape the dominant perspectives of the world and its values, they teach people what to think, feel and believe in. She emphasized that the media offer three dominant contents in which women are presented as: 1. beauties, 2. women of leisure, 3. "paid" women and super women.  In terms of gender-based violence, the media speak little of prevention; instead, they bring images of violence and victims in crime and courts section.
Borka Rudić added that there are few positive reports and that the media are dominated by violence consequences. She especially highlighted the importance of the manner in which women-victims are presented in order to avoid manipulation. Journalists' job should be to always take the victim's side, not to publish the victim's identity, to show compassion, understanding and support. In the end, she encouraged the participants to react, because that is the only path to creating a common practice. When the media reporting codex is broken, it is necessary to appeal to the agency in charge and to the Media Council.

Šejla Sehabović used Dr. Midhat Riđanović's text on feminists and language to show what intellectuals are doing to exclude and discriminate against women. The strategies that can be seen are – among others – fake compliments such as: use your pretty head, sweet young author etc. She concluded that it is important to avoid false analogies and banalization used by some intellectuals when they lack any real argumentation.
On the third day, Amra Delić spoke of legal norms which regulate domestic violence, who lawfully counts as family, and what kinds of domestic violence there are. She especially emphasized the consequences of psychological violence which may not be immediately obvious but they have long-standing consequences in the lives of many women as well as men who are in over 95% of cases the perpetrators of domestic violence. She advised the participants to pay attention to how they talk to students who come from families with a history of violence and that it is important to work with violence perpetrators who show will to change.
Berminka Hrelja - Bećirspahić followed by recounting her experience as a therapist and pedagogue, and she spoke about the pedagogue's role in schools in differentiating between types of violence. She advised the participants to beware of work burnout, and to do what it is best for the child without thinking they can change everything. She emphasized that pedagogues should not be replacement mothers or best friends to children; instead, they should help them get better at communicating with their parents and abandon helplessness. Children who suffer violence are helpless and they need guidance.
The summer school ended with a short strategic planning led by Zilka Spahić and Melika Šahinović. The planning showed current problems faced by pedagogues, their vision of the future, and concrete steps needed to fulfill that vision. It is especially important to use examples of good practice, to work on violence prevention and to present it in the media, as well as to have these topics in curriculums from kindergarten to college.