14.12.2016. 16:24:00 - Odabrala i prevela: Franciska Cettl

Libela: Monthly digest in English

(Foto: FB ProLife Hrvatska)

Here is the summary of important news and copyright texts that will be published monthly for those interested in what is happening in Croatia in terms of feminism and politics.


7 Dec 2016, 13:00 Libela

Crowdfunding Campaign

100 % Funds Collected for the First Café in Croatia to Employ People with Down Syndrome

A crowdfunding campaign was launched on the Indiegogo platform with the aim to open the first café in Croatia that will employ people with Down syndrome – Buba Bar.

The campaign was launched by the Bubamara Organisation from Vinkovci, which provides support for about 1400 people with disabilities. The aim, which was to collect ten thousand dollars, has been achieved and all the additional funds will be used for extra refurbishments!  The original amount will cover the minimum requirements for a functioning café, and all the extra funds will be used by the Bubamara for additional equipment and works.

Some of the future employees are already preparing for the job as a temporary Buba Bar has been opened in Vinkovci for the Advent period. Alen, Domagoj, Dario, Ivana i Marija have been patiently practicing their skills for the last three months. Out of 500 000 people with disabilities in Croatia, only 2.4 % are employed. "Our mission is to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, and sensitize the society to accept them as its equal members. We want Buba Bar to break the ice, and that soon each city in Croatia has its own Buba Bar! We want to give the opportunity to young people with disabilities to live their lives as everybody else. We want them to be able to work," the Bubamara Organisation highlights.

Take part in this very important initiative and join the campaign. "Help us to create a place of equal opportunities for everybody – for us on this, and you on the other side of the bar," the Bubamara says.

Tags: bubacrowdfunding campaignDown syndrome, café, people with disabilities, Bubamara Organisation, Vinkovci


6 Dec 2016, 23:09 Civilnodruš / Libela

Women's Rights Activists Appeal to Government

25 Thousand Signatures for Urgent Ratification of the Istanbul Convention Handed In To Government

On December 6, women's rights activists handed in to the Government 25 000 signatures by the citizens who demand an urgent ratification of the Istanbul Convention. The ratification would enable an encompassing protection of women from violence, the appropriate action towards offenders and an efficient monitoring of the implementation.

Although on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced the beginning of the ratification process, activists of the Autonomous Women's House Zagreb and the Centre for Women War Victims ROSA fear the lack of political will. For a year now, the "Isign" campaign  has been collecting citizens' signatures of support  for an urgent ratification.

The Istanbul Convention was signed in January 2013, but since then no progress has been made towards its ratification. Representative of the Autonomous Women's House Zagreb Neva Tolle said that the ratification is taking too long, and in the region, only Macedonia and Croatia have not done it yet. Most EU member states have ratified the convention, and Austria was the first in 2013.

"We all know that governments' reports are always embellished, while reality is different and therefore women's organizations make shadow reports," Tolle said. She adds that the convention has powerful mechanisms and its application will grant better quality protection for many women.  Although it is frequently publicly stated that Croatia does not have the necessary funds, Tolle emphasizes that the activists do not agree, and neither do many men, because human life is priceless and also, it is a question of budget redistribution.

What is more likely to be the issue is the lack of political will, because the ratification requires adjusting the existing laws, especially the Family Law which treats victim and offender equally in the legal process, and requires the victim to make contact with the offender. The activists warn that only this year 16 women were killed by their current or former partners. Every third woman suffers from a form of gender based violence, and only less than 20% of women seek police help.

Tags: Istanbul Convention, petition, Isign, ratification, gender based violence, structural violence, Government, protection, women's rights


29 Nov 2016, 00:58 Libela

International Letter of Support

Kulturnjaci 2016: In Defense of Secular, Democratic and Free Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb

In yesterday's press conference, together with the professors of Zagreb Faculty for Humanities and Social Sciences, the initiative Kulturnjaci 2016 warned about an alarming state of affairs and management in this institution that has been unfolding for months. They launched an international petition in support of the Faculty's professors who fight for secularism and autonomy.

"We express our deep concern over the continuous pressures on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, which threaten basic academic freedoms, free research and thinking, democratic governance and participation, and, last but not least, the secular character of the University," the letter of support states.

"We, the undersigned, want to express our support for the struggle of the professors and students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. We stand in solidarity with their attempts to defend the secular character of the university that should know no religious or ideological restrictions to scientific research and intellectual curiosity. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is a bastion of progressive thought and democratic innovation. The students of this Faculty occupied it in 2009 and established The Plenum, a general assembly, as a direct democratic body of students, professors and all citizens fighting against the commercialization of higher education. Because of its wider intellectual, social and political role and influence, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences obviously has to be punished and its progressive and iconoclastic nature radically altered. One pernicious way to achieve this is to undermine its secular character as the basis of free and rational thought. It is our task to prevent this from happening. Our letter of solidarity is thus a call to action: free, secular and democratic university is the fundamental precondition for free, secular and democratic society."

You are invited to sign the letter here. An expression of support can also be addressed to

Tags: autonomy,  Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, public education, culture, Kulturnjaci 2016, international support, education, petition, support letter, secularism, University of Zagreb


29 Nov 2016, 12:28 Libela

Gendered Language

Women's and Feminist Organisations Launch the "Let's Speak the Language of Equality" Campaign

To mark the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the "Let's Speak the Language of Equality" campaign was launched publicly, by the organisers Woman's Room – Center for Sexual Rights, and the partner Woman's Organisation "IZVOR" (from Tenja) and Woman's Organisation "Korak" (from Karlovac).

The campaign includes more than 15 women's and feminist organisations all over Croatia, which have been actively working for the past 20 years to influence changes in the public policies, legislature and institutional practices. A list of the organisations can be found at and the official Facebook campaign page.

The campaign aims are to sensitize the wider public to the unequal status of women and girls by flagging the inequality in the Croatian language, as well as to present the Croatian civil society organisations which advocate women's rights.

According to the Woman's Room research from early 2016, which included 37 people from 23 different civil society organisations and governmental bodies, most organisations have had more than 20 years of experience with women victims of violence. They mostly have up to 5 employees, and a significant number of associates and volunteers.

The organisations provide long-term support to victims, and legal and psychological counselling. More than one third have shelters for women and their children. Out of 23 organisations, 22 work every day, 8 hours on average, but also adjusting to victims' needs. These organizations give support to between 7200 and 9950 victims of violence, and provide shelter for more than 300 women and children.

Although their work has been hindered by the lack of funding and prejudice, these organisations have managed over the years to create an independent network of support for women and children victims of gender-based violence, and to trigger crucial changes regarding violence against women in the governmental institutions.

The "Let's Speak the Language of Equality"  campaign invites citizens to visit  and give their suggestions for the nouns of female grammatical gender which are lacking in the Croatian language, and familiarize themselves with the women's and feminist organisations that are the key actors in fighting for women's rights in Croatia.

Tags: feminism, Croatia, language, NGO, reproductive and sexual health and rights, gender equality, Woman's Room



5 Nov 2016, 15:59 Al Jazeera / Libela

Cold Weather Causes Major Difficulties

Thousands of Refugees Stranded in Serbia Wait to Enter EU

Around 6000 refugees are currently in the Serbian territory. The majority is stationed in five collective centres, but at least one thousand is roaming the streets, waiting to continue journey towards the EU. The humanitarian and non-governmental organisations have warned that cold weather is aggravating the conditions, but the Serbian authorities state that the situation is under control and that their capacities will not increase.

In the refugee centre Krnjača, Mar Muhamad, his wife and four children from Iraq are awaiting patiently for the day they will be able to cross from Serbia into Hungary. "We have been here for 45 days and are still not on the list, while some who came 20 days ago are already on the list for crossing into Hungary," he says.

The Hungarian Government has announced they will decrease the daily quota of refugees from 30 to 20. The Serbian Minister of Labour and Social Policy Aleksandar Vulin says that the border controls will remain efficient. "If our neighbours cut the number of refugees they can take in from our country, we will be cutting the number of those that can enter Serbia," Vulin says.

There is no space left in Krnjača, which is currently occupied by more than one thousand people, and the same amount is on the streets of Belgrade. The Belgrade Park, where until recently refugees could stay and were given meals, is no longer available due to construction works, while the center Miksalište has run out of meals.

"For hundreds of refugees in the streets of Belgrade, the only shelter now is behind the Bus Station, in the derelict buildings," Jelena Milutinović reports for Al Jazeera.

The humanitarian organizations are helping as much as they can, but the situation is growing ever more difficult. 150 refugees per day continue to enter Serbia. Due to reports of various diseases, the collective centres have reinforced their medical procedures.

 Tags: Belgrade, humanitarian organisations, info park, refugees, quota, Miksalište, lack of food, Serbia



8 Dec 2016, 17:17 Iva Zelić

Most Vulnerable Social Groups Targeted

Epilogue to the 2016 Attack on Civil Society

(Foto: Facebook Inicijative za snažno civilno društvo)

(Foto: Facebook Inicijative za snažno civilno društvo)

What we learnt from the current year 2016 is that things can always get worse. We will remember it for major political instabilities: forming of a center-right Government coalition headed by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković in January, two months after a general election failed to produce an outright winner, its subsequent dissolution in June due to disputes between the coalition partners, followed by another general election in September with similar results, and a re-forming of the centre-right coalition, led this time around by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. In the process, previously marginalized far right groups have been growing stronger, while the freedom of media, democratic and civil values have suffered numerous attacks. The non-profit media and civil sectors have been specifically targeted. One of the most significant moves of the short-lasting Government was cutting the funds to the National Foundation for Civil Society Development.

That is, despite the consensus that funds to the Foundation should be increased, its members were in for a shock in April – instead of the planned 50 million kuna / 6 670 000 euro (14,21 % of the lottery funds), the Foundation budget was cut down to 26 million kuna /3 470 000 euro (6,88 %). In this way, in spite of the long-term support contracts, various organisations were left with no funds for viable activities. The decision was joyfully greeted by the recently growing neoconservative, right-wing, clerical organisations, such as "In the Name of the Family." This organisation came to public prominence in 2013, when they collected enough citizens' signatures to make the Government call for a referendum on the definition of marriage. To recall, on December 1, 2013, 65 % of Croatians voted that the marriage be defined in the Constitution as a union between a man and a woman, prohibiting thus a legal possibility of gay marriage.

One of the civil organisations that has been continuously targeted by "In the Name of the Family" for its activities and funding is Zagreb Pride. When we asked Zagreb Pride about the ratio from the National Foundation in their budget, they tell us it is 13 % of the budget. "The average yearly budget of Zagreb Pride in the last three years has been 1 million kuna. 65% comes from the EU public funds, and 15 % from other international, either public (the US or UK governments) or private sectors (Open Society Fondations, Astraea Lesbian Fondation for Justice, Urgent Action Fund or Global Fund For Women). The biggest amount of these funds goes towards educational and anti-discrimination programmes. Another 15 % of the budget comes from the City of Zagreb or the Ministry of Culture, supporting the Pride March, and the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, which has supported the project of fighting homo/bi/transphobia in schools. The latter 15 % includes also funds from the National Foundation. Around 5 % of the budget comes from citizens' donations, mostly in the period before the yearly Pride March," Marko Jurčić said.

While the government and the ideologically like-minded were happy to cut funds for the organisations which promote different values, what happened is that funds were also cut for people with disabilities. The Croatian Union of Associations for Autism (CUAA), despite previously being granted a five-year support for improving the life quality of people with disabilities, due to the funding cuts had to dismiss the only two employees and stop their activities. "The Union planned to apply for the EU funds and to the national calls for projects, but now this is uncertain since there are currently no employees," Nikola Tadić said. When asked about other possible support for vulnerable groups, Tena Veverka from the Union told us: "Regarding support for the vulnerable, one of our associations managed to get additional funds for assistants in education. After numerous queries about the budget cuts sent by the Union, a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was finally held on December 1st. Nevertheless, a Directive on the 2017 distribution of lottery funds was on Tuesday put forward to the public, which allocates to the development of civil society less (11, 18 %) than in the previous ten years. The deadline to submit comments is December 12, and we sincerely hope there will be a sensitivity for the civil society organisations and the past percentage will be restored, i.e., minimally 14,2 %.

Based on the above, we can conclude that the non-profit sector has been left way behind. What happened is that the most vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities or the youth, have been deprived of significant funds, and the work with these groups has been diminished. However, people working in the non-profit sector are driven by their own enthusiasm and belief into building a more just society. Therefore, the plans to completely sabotage the sector have not succeeded.

Tags: autism, media, National Foundation, non-profit organisations, Zagreb Pride

10 Dec 2016, 14:17 Tea Stipan

Never-Ending Fight

We Want to Live

Neoconservative ideologies have been spreading throughout Europe for a while now, and Croatia, unsurprisingly, is not an exception. When it comes to women's reproductive rights, especially the right to abortion, the situation is particularly alarming.

In October this year, a motion was put forward to the Constitutional Court to challenge the Law on free decision on childbirth, 25 years after this issue was first raised. To recall, Catholic activist of the Croatian Movement for Life and Family, Ružica Ćavar, in 1991 raised the issue of legality of abortion.  The Catholic Church did not miss this chance to try restricting women's rights, and Cardinal Kuharić demanded from the Parliament to completely ban abortion and contraception, unsuccessfully. All this led to the proposals of amendments to the Law in 1995/6, as well as the formation of the Croatian Catholic Medical Society.

When Croatia joined the EU in 2013, the Croatian neoconservatives were bolstered by their European counterparts, and continued reinforcing more strongly the idea that women's primary role is that of an incubator – in case we forgot. Thus in recent years we witnessed various "peaceful prayer gatherings in front of the hospitals" that are becoming ever less peaceful and aggressively impose their worldview.

Information taken out of context or completely false pseudoscientific data which thrive on people's fears and prejudice are common weapons of the neoconservatives. Also, they have been increasingly using visual materials that manipulate information and emotions because – an image of a dead foetus says more than a thousand words. In order to garner support from the public, anti-choice supporters are waging an ideological battle over the symbolic meanings of a visually displayed foetus.

We cannot but not mention the epitome of Croatian neoconservatives, which made the restriction of women's rights their life mission – and no, it is not Željka Markić (though the race would be tight), but an organisation that professes to "defend the right to life from natural conception to natural death" – Vigilare. This organisation is particularly adept at using new media and petitions to promote their 'vigilant' agenda.

In the middle of the holiday season, Vigilare decided to remind us that the women's rights won after the years of relentless struggle, are to be flushed down the toilet. They released a video and put up 11 billboards around Zagreb earlier this week, showing that no limit to bad taste exists for them. This media campaign accompanies the earlier mentioned motion to challenge the legality of the Law on free decision on childbirth, which the Constitutional Court is currently considering.

Their website claims that the "billboards show the brutal reality in the Croatian hospitals and private gynaecological clinics." We can agree on the brutal reality of Croatian hospitals – in which women cannot freely make decisions about their bodies and health, and are constantly being obstructed through various means to exercise their legal rights.

Manipulating scientific facts is, predictably, part of the campaign, so the billboard show a woman in a late stage of pregnancy, much later than 10 weeks during which abortion is legal. This can be interpreted as manipulating the public as well as putting pressure on the Constitutional Court. "Groups close to the Church are doing this to push their own agenda," Nataša Bijelić from CESI said for Index. Medical doctor Dubravko Lepušić agrees, highlighting that interventions after the 15th week of pregnancy are performed only in the cases when the foetus is malformed, while abortions at the woman's request are performed legally during the ten weeks.

Additionally, Vigilare stooped to good old gender stereotypes when the voice of girl 'Mia' in the tasteless (to say the least) video tells us that her life dream is to get married and have many children as to fulfil her parents' expectations. Fascinatingly, the video in less than a minute and a half manages to produce nausea and abhorrence, and present the choice on abortion for everything apart from what it actually is. The nausea felt familiar and reminded me of the song released earlier this year, performed by the band Emanuel and certain celebrities who decided to earn at the expense of women's reproductive rights.

After 25 years, on Monday we will come full circle – the Croatian Movement for Life and Family announced submitting an amended version of the original motion from 1991 to the Constitutional Court. This is yet another confirmation that the once won reproductive rights can never be taken for granted and that the fight for dignity and equality is never-ending. "I want to live and I want laws to protect me," Mia says at the end of the video. Dear neoconservatives, we want the same.

Tags:  abortion, anti choice, Croatia,  right to abortion,  pro choice, reproductive and sexual rights, Constitutional Court, Vigilare, Law on abortion, I want to live



29 Nov 2016, 07:55 The Huffington Post


'Xenophobia' is Word Of The Year

There were a lot of surprises to come out of 2016, but "xenophobia" being named's Word of the Year is not one of them.

When you consider the rhetoric that galvanized people in this year's Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential race, the proof that "xenophobia" is the word that most represents the zeitgeist of 2016 is, well, in the pudding.

According to, the word's origins stem from two Greek terms meaning "stranger" ("xénos") and "fear" or "panic" ("phóbo"). Searches for "xenophobia" on the site surged right after the Brexit vote in June. There was an even larger spike days later, when President Obama delivered a speech stating that language used by Donald Trump, current President-elect, was not an example of populism, but rather "nativism or xenophobia."

"Xenophobia and other words tied to global news and political rhetoric reflected the worldwide interest in the unfortunate rise of fear of otherness in 2016, making it the clear choice for Word of the Year," said Liz McMillan, CEO of, in a statement.

Tags: 2016, Brexit, Donald Trump, global politics, refugees, xenophobia, migrants, Obama, fear


1 Dec 2016, 21.47 Katarina Pavičić-Ivelja

Appaling Results of EU Research

More Than One Fourth of Europeans, and 37% of Croatians, Justify Rape

An EU research shows that as many as 27 % informants, i.e., every fourth EU citizen, thinks that having sexual intercourse with someone who has not consented can be justified in certain circumstances.

A Eurobarometer Research, which revealed the alarming results, mostly focused on gender-based violence, and included 27 818 informants from different social and demographic groups across Europe. The results show that 74 % consider any kind of violence against women to be a common occurrence in their country, while the steep 70 % consider sexual harassment of women to be common.

Arguably the most shocking number in the research is the mentioned 27 %, who justify non-consensual sex by considering that a woman cannot claim rape or should see it as deserved if she put herself in an 'inappropriate' situation. In the research, informants were asked to decide whether non-consensual sex is acceptable in the following nine situations: if the person is under the influence of alcohol; during a voluntary visit to someone's home; if the person is wearing provocative clothes; if there is no physical resistance; if flirting occurs before the act; if the person had multiple sexual partners; if the person walks on their own at night; if the rapist is not conscious of their actions; if the rapist regrets their actions.

Out of these nine situations, the informants most often justify rape in cases when a woman is under the influence of alcohol /drugs, wearing provocative clothes or voluntarily comes to the rapist's home (for example, after a meeting with him).

Among all included countries, Romanians justify rape most (the massive 55 %). They are followed by Hungarians (47%), and Bulgarians (43%). The smallest percentage is in Spain and Sweden, where only 6 % of informants justify rape.

Croatia participated in the research as well, which led to an appalling finding – as many as 37 % of Croatian citizens find rape justifiable in one of the 'exceptional' circumstances.

Former President of the German National Committee for UN Women, Kanchana Lanzet commented on the differences between the western and eastern Europe. While media and educational institutions in western Europe openly advocate against violence towards women and emphasize conscious consent, eastern European societies are traditional and do not speak openly about sex.

According to estimates, one in five women is raped during her lifetime, and still frequently with no consequences for the perpetrator. In Croatia, for each reported case there are 15 to 20 cases that do not get reported

Tags: EU, Eurobarometer, Europe, Croatia, research, violence against women, justifying rape

Tagovi: abortion, croatia, english, feminism, libela, monthly digest, pro-choice, reproductive rights, women s rights

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