Monday, January 16, 2006

"No alternative to Kosovo indenpendence" - OSCE Official

Text of report by "jdc" entitled "According to unofficial sources, Kosovo will gain independence" carried by Belgian newspaper De Standaard website on 16 January

Nobody wanted to give an official confirmation at last week's OSCE conference in Vienna, but unofficial well-informed observers are saying with surprising firmness that "we have no alternative to Kosovo's independence".

The issue is very sensitive. Officially, Kosovo is still a province of Serbia that the United Nations has been governing since the 1999 war. By the middle of this year, however, a decision on its "definitive status" is due. The Kosovo Albanians, i.e. 90 per cent of the population, want independence. The Kosovo Serbs, the remaining 10 per cent who live mainly in the north, want to stay with Belgrade.

Last Friday [13 January] in Vienna, [Belgian Foreign] Minister [and OSCE Duty President] De Gucht met former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the UN envoy who is leading the status talks. After the meeting, De Gucht declined to confirm or deny that independence - which will most likely be restricted in the initial stage - is the most plausible option because of the overly sensitive nature of the issue.

"Whatever happens, we will have to strive laboriously for a balanced solution," De Gucht said. "There are many minorities; we will have to maintain close contacts with Belgrade; and we will have to conduct the talks on the possible decentralization of power in Kosovo."

"Not all proposals are equally valuable. A Greek professor suggested granting Kosovo's minorities the same status as Mount Athos (a republic of monks in Greece - De Standaard editor's note), including their own legal system. In my opinion, this would be unfeasible in Kosovo."

In addition, the fear exists that the Kosovo Serbs will want to annex their part of the country to Serbia.

15 comments:

Visit Prishtina said...

"we have no alternative to Kosovo's independence"

Ivan, Cvijus et al: is this also Albanian propaganda and we, the Kosovar Albanians, believe this crap and therefore we're brainwashed?

And, should we believe "Srbija do Tokija!" because the latter matches the reality more?

Hope this finds you in good health!

Sami said...

Kosova will have independence this year and the flaccid, castrated Serbian state is powerless to stop it. When the declaration is officially signed in Prishtina (near the new U.S. Embassy), I will be there and we will dance in the streets. American businesses (and some, less virile European ones as well) are poised, waiting to invest in the fledgling country, and the results will be phenomenal. Soon the diaspora will come home and families will become intact once again. 2006 will be a wonderful year.

Dardania 2006 said...

The time for us and the rest of our respected neighbours such as Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Croatia, has come to move on and leave these mideval ideas that most of Serbia seems to be high on...and enter Europe once more.

The old Serb saying: "Serbia till Tokyo" should be considered a warning to China, Japan and all inbetween cause now that they cannot expand West they will expand East.

Cvijus011 said...

dr. pristina

we also say there is no alternative to your independence, but don't take our people with you, when it is obvious that they want to stay in Serbia.

sami,

hope the same for the Kosovo Serbs, in 2006 when north Kosovo becomes part of Serbia, families will become intact once more.

dardania,

"and enter Europe once more."

were you already in Europe?

"mideval ideas that most of Serbia seems to be high on"

Serbia will sing soonly the stabilization and association pact with the EU, whereas Kosovo...nuthin.
We are not in the middle ages, we are just taking care of our people, whereas you only look what Serbs are doing instead of taking care of your own stuff (humanrights violations, human trafficking, high criminality rate, etc.)

ivan said...

Cvijus,

dont forget about 60% that are unemployed....

PejaCity said...

This has nothing to do with the article itself but i want to show you how "some" serbs act in foreign country like Sweden where i live, its called "non civilized"

Avni Dervishi is an expert in political science and party secretary for Liberal Party of Sweden wich is the third force in Parliament. Recently Mr Dervishi have been threaten to death by serbian nationalist living in Sweden because he condemned the swedish academy for giving a French fanatic aouther by the name Harold Pinter the nobleprice, wich he have supported the diktator Slobodan Milosevic and deny'd the genocide commited in Srbrenica ever happend, for that he and his family live under deaththreat and are guarded by bodyguards. Mr Dervishi is orig Albanian!

ps. Anna Lindh former Swedish foreign minister got stabbed to death by an serbian nationalist for supporting Nato's act under the Kosova war 98-99!

If you can read swedish her is the article -http://www.expressen.se/index.jsp?a=485241

ivan said...

Yes, ofcourse you albanians do differ from us. We dont smuggle children for labour,drugs and prostitution. Oh yeah, i guess this is one of Serbian propaganda.

Well take a look at this link and tell me who is barbarian:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/863620.stm

Serbs dont consider any of the above mentioned as heroes. Milosevic, Milutinovic and Seselj are sent to Hague. Karadzic and Mladic are hiding, but they will be found. Serbia publicly apologized for all the crimes that have been doen in its name.We have moved on, but you, you still finance your independence with innocent childrens lives.

Like kristian said, it is a crime to raise innocent children with any type of hate, but even a bigger sin it is to use their innocent flesh to make money.

Visit Prishtina said...

Serbia publicly apologized for all the crimes that have been doen in its name.

Can you support your claims with any proof?

Who has apologised on behalf of Serbia (the president, the prime minister), when and where? And to whom did he/she apologise and was that apology accepted or not?

I am 100% certain that your statement is totally false, nevertheless if you prove me wrong when I will withdraw everything I said.

May I remind you that you claimed that Serbia has apologised for all the crimes committed in its name, so an apology to Croatia only, for example, does not support your claim.

Anonymous said...

Read about how Serbian women are raped by their brothers and fathers.


Domestic Abuse and the Women's Movement in Serbia

By Zorica Mrsevic

Zorica Mrsevic is a senior researcher at the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, and a professor at the Women's Studies Center, both in Belgrade. In 1996-97 she was a visiting professor at Iowa University College of Law. She is a co-founder, volunteer, and/or member of a number of independent women's groups in Belgrade. She visited the University of Michigan in March, 1997.
Why should the issue of domestic violence against Serbian women interest anyone outside of Serbia? Why should this issue matter to American readers?

The answer lies in the universality of human rights. In the time before the Second World War, the Nazi German state violated what are now recognized as the basic human rights of its citizens. At the time, the world community considered these violations to be the internal affair of an independent, sovereign country, which was entitled to deal with its citizens according to its own laws. These "internal affairs," however, ended up spilling over Germany's borders and destabilizing all of Europe. The result was a war that was not only devastating to Germany's neighbors but also dangerous to the entire world.

The concept of human rights was born at this moment. The war forced a recognition that no state can be allowed to deny human rights and basic freedoms to its citizens, and that the world community is entitled to intervene when violations occur. The concept of human rights implies, then, a "narrow" concept of sovereignty, which carries with it the obligation to preserve basic rights and freedoms (1). The defense of human rights was to be a key factor in the prevention of future local, regional and, particularly, global wars.

Domestic violence is nothing other than a violation and a denial of human rights, one that affects certain groups of people disproportionately, especially women, children, the disabled, and the elderly. Like all violations of human rights, these events have a tendency to expand across boundaries - in this case, the walls of private houses - into the larger society, where they reverberate in more and more frequent acts of public violence. Domestic violence "teaches" male children to be future perpetrators by providing them with violent male role models for identification. Likewise, female children who experience or witness domestic violence learn to be future victims. Men whose acts of violence committed at home go unpunished are more likely to express their masculinity outside their home in a violent way, and to feel entitled to solve all kinds of problems by means of "quick and efficient" violence. As more and more people are involved in the circle of violence, either as perpetrators or as victims, the whole society becomes accustomed to violence and becomes brutalized by its ubiquitous presence.

The crux of the problem is that domestic violence is treated more or less everywhere as a private matter, something for which both sides allegedly are equally responsible. The lack of interference sends a message to violent men that their violent acts are "normal" men's behavior, and that their homes are spaces where they may behave like masters of a little universe, free to be as violent as they like. The consequences of tolerance of such violence are the proliferation of more violence of all kinds, domestic as well as public, and a more irrational and brutal society.

Just as violations of human rights and freedoms of citizens should not be treated as the "internal affair" of one country, so domestic violence should not be treated as a "private matter" of one family. In both cases, outside interference is both legitimate and necessary as a means to end violations of human rights. The responsibility of a state to secure the human rights of its citizens includes a responsibility to guarantee safe, violence-free homes for women and children.

A woman has been married 17 years. She has two children and is unemployed. Her husband owns a small firm and often travels on business. When he goes away, he locks her and the children in the house, without money, sometimes for as long as 20 days. He locks her in the house "so the whore cannot cruise around." When he is at home, he beats her and does not let her get a job, nor even leave the house. She is divorcing him. (2)

A 38-year-old woman has been married six years and has a five-year-old child. She and her husband and child live with her husband's parents, who, like her husband, are alcoholics. When he is drunk, her husband beats her, and his parents support him and plot and gossip against her. She is divorcing him, but she has little income and does not know where she is going to live with her child. Presently, she lives at a friend's.

The "Chicken or the Egg": Domestic Violence and War

What is the relationship between domestic violence and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia? The usual position of feminists from Belgrade has been that the war, along with the economic, political and social crisis in general, produced an increase in domestic violence. They point to a number of processes:

1. Unemployed husbands lost their dominant position, lost "face" as bread winners, and started to drink and beat family members.

2. Waves of violent behavior often occurred after aggressive war propaganda, including stories about atrocities, which were always committed by "enemies" or the "other side," against helpless civilians from "our side." This has been labeled the "post-TV news syndrome." (3)

3. Young men returning from battle started to assault members of their families.

4. Men sometimes behaved violently after visiting certain restaurants which catered to war veterans. (4)

5. Previously decent people, hooked by vague expectations of earning a lot of money in a short time, became caught up in increasingly violent criminal deeds. Many unemployed people, for instance, found their means of survival in smuggling necessary goods or selling smuggled items. Smuggling was a domain dominated by "mafia" organizations, and these people were drawn unintentionally into violent crime.

In my view, each of these examples points to secondary sources of violence. The primary, or structural, source of violence is the patriarchy at the very foundation of Serbian society (and many other societies, as well). The patriarchal model of masculinity, especially the tolerance and even encouragement of aggressive behavior on the part of men, promotes a wide range of violent deeds, including domestic violence. In addition, a lack of proper reactions from institutions that deal with violence and a total shortage of specific legal provisions concerning domestic violence create a situation in which these acts go unchecked. It was within this pre-existing context of patriarchal norms and structures that the war aggravated the problem of domestic violence.

Moreover, it is important to recognize that the nature of the war was, itself, shaped by the violence already present in Serbian society. A common characteristic of war veterans' stories (some of them related directly to the author) is how "easily" decent "boys from the neighborhood" found themselves adapting to the sexual atrocities, arson, and killing committed during the war. Domestic violence, of course, cannot be said to have caused the war, which had multiple roots in history and contemporary politics. But the tolerance of domestic violence in Serbian society contributed to the proliferation of atrocities committed by combatants on and off the battlefield. In other words, we have here the famous question: "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The violence of war and the violence of everyday life in Serbian society were locked in a cycle of mutual causation.

A woman's husband is in jail because he tied his daughter to a tree, slashed her clothes with a knife, and badly hurt her. He sends threats to his wife and children, claiming that they will pay for every day he spends in prison. She has no place to go with her children. And courts are reluctant to grant divorces to couples when one member is in jail.

A woman has been married for 34 years. She and her husband are retired and live in a house that they both built. He is jealous, accuses her of adultery, and has beaten her for years. A year ago, he threw her out of the house. She went to stay with her daughter's family, but her husband called their son-in-law and his parents and demanded that they "throw the whore out." She returned to her husband, and the beatings started again. She would divorce her husband, but the division of real estate may take years to resolve. "[W]hat shall I do in the meantime?" she asks.

Research on Domestic Violence

In recent years, women's organizations in Serbia have been conducting research in order to determine the nature, causes, and consequences of domestic violence in their country. Each time the SOS Hotline in Belgrade receives a call reporting abuse of some kind, the volunteer who takes the call fills out a lengthy questionnaire. Based on these questionnaires, SOS Hotline, together with a team of researchers from the Women's Law Group, have compiled information on this issue from a sample of 1,422 cases from 1991 to 1995.

The perpetrators in the majority of cases were husbands (between 56-65 percent of all perpetrators, depending on the year) and ex-husbands (8-13 percent). Sons, many of whom had just returned from battle in a traumatized condition, also committed a significant number of acts (from 6-12 percent each year). In all cases, perpetrators combined different kinds of abuse. Physical violence was generally mixed with mental abuse. Sexual assault (reported in 8-12 percent of cases, depending on the year) and threats of murder (6-16 percent of cases) were relatively common.

The majority of victims reported suffering exposure to domestic violence on a daily basis (from 85-94 percent of cases, depending on the year). The violence, in most cases, occurred over "many years." In fact, the great majority of victims (from 60-78 percent) reported that the pattern of violence began at the very beginning of the couple's domestic life together. How did the victims identify the causes of the initial acts of violence? The most common responses were "nothing" (close to half of all cases in each year) and "alcohol" (about one-third of cases each year).

It is not easy for the victims of domestic violence to escape from their situation. Over three-quarters of those who contacted SOS Hotline in each of the years of the study were still living, at that time, with the person who abused them. The most common reasons these women gave for not leaving were lack of any alternative place to live, "economic reasons," and fear. Living space is an especially acute problem, because of the shortage of apartments in Belgrade. Rent for an apartment can cost the equivalent of a relatively high monthly salary, so that battered women, especially those who are poor or unemployed, often have no alternative but to remain at home with their abusive partners. How can they afford the rent for an apartment, and still pay for food, take care of their children's needs, and handle other expenses? They are, essentially, trapped.

Children were present during the violent acts in more than two-thirds of all cases. There is no statistical data about incest. What we know comes from stories that adult women have recounted about their childhood. In talking with adult women, little by little we discovered that many had been traumatized in their childhood, sexually molested, abused, or raped by persons whom they trusted. When, in the early 1990s, women's groups started to publicize the issue of the large number of women sexually abused in childhood by supposedly trustworthy people, thereby undermining the myth of the "unknown sex maniac" as the main danger to children, they were met by disbelief from many men and male-dominated institutions. Police, social workers, some judges and prosecutors, journalists: they simply would not believe that incest could exist in our vicinity. This lack of response from mainstream institutions has meant that child sexual abuse and incest are now considered "feminist issues" in Serbia, even though feminists recognize that the victims of incest are both male and female children (although female children prevail), and that perpetrators are also both adult men and women (although men prevail).

R has never been able to tell her story completely, without crying or moments of deep silence. She tells her story in fragments. As a teenager, R wrote a love letter to her teacher. The teacher (a woman) gave the letter to R's parents, warning them to take better care of R because something was "wrong with her." R's family sent her to a mental hospital where she underwent electric-shock treatment in order to cure her of what was diagnosed as "a lesbian perversion." But the fact was, R's older brother had been continuously sexually molesting her from her earliest years. When she returned home from the hospital, her father started to "teach her to be a real woman" by having sexual intercourse with R against her will. At the age of 20, she gave birth to a baby girl, her own father's daughter. The baby was taken from her instantly after childbirth and put up for adoption. (R remembers only an image of herself screaming, while her newborn baby was taken from her forever.) R was sent to the mental hospital again and doctors were generously bribed by her father not to pay attention to her stories about incest. R was exposed to heavy medication for the next few years. Although visibly disturbed because of two stays in mental hospitals and her incest experiences, R obtained a university degree. She has never been employed, and is constantly sedated with tranquilizers. She was severely punished for being a lesbian - something that has never been a crime. Her father and brother, criminals and incest perpetrators, are still respected as decent citizens and members of the community.

Women's and Feminist Organizations

The late 1980s were pre-war years in the former Yugoslavia, although we did not realize it at the time. This was a period of political crises, tensions among the governments of the federal republics, a split in the Union of Communist Parties, demands for democratization, and the spread of nationalist propaganda. Simply put, this was a time of aggressive words and anger, especially among men. In order to respond to this atmosphere of aggression, Women and Society, an organization that had emerged out of meetings, protests and petitions in the late 1970s, established SOS Hotline in Belgrade in 1990. This hotline was the first of its kind in Serbia, although the third in the former Yugoslavia (after the hotlines in Zagreb and Ljubljana). Almost every day SOS Hotline receives from five to ten calls, totaling about 2,000 each year. SOS Hotline also runs a shelter for battered women.

Other groups appeared soon after, and currently there are about 15 women's groups of various orientations in Belgrade. Almost all of these groups rely on money from foreign foundations in order to operate. For some groups, this is a virtue, in that it allows them to remain autonomous from official institutions that have been implicated in militaristic policies. For other organizations, however, such as those that run shelters, the lack of public funding from within Serbia creates desperate hardships. Women in Black, established in 1991, is a pacifist organization which protests against nationalism, militarism, war and other forms of violence. The Women's Studies Center, which opened in 1992, aims to provide feminist education to women students. (Belgrade University does not recognize women's studies as a legitimate field of scholarship.) The Center for Girls was founded in 1993 in order to deal with violence and incest against female children and to provide them with support. The Women's Law Group, which also started in 1993, has the following aims: to provide legal aid to women who are victims of violence, to monitor laws and court decisions, and to educate women about their legal rights. The Autonomous Women's Center Against Sexual Violence is another organization that provides support to women and children who are victims of sexual violence.

Despite the common goals shared by members of these organizations, they have not been immune from bitter internal struggles. These struggles have emerged in the context of an economic crisis that has brought poverty and unemployment to Serbia and has made the salaries paid by various women's organizations, funded by foreign donors, vital resources for everyday survival.
The means that participants in these struggles have employed are inherited from the communist era. Activists in the feminist movement were born and raised under communism, and have emulated typically communist role models. Thus, there are "veteran feminists" (instead of "veteran communists") and "young feminist crusaders" (instead of "young communist crusaders"). The veterans are the very few people who came from the original feminist group, Women and Society, and have remained in the feminist movement over the years. The feminist movement has provided their only work-place and their only source of livelihood. The "young feminist crusaders" are newcomers, characterized (like their historical model, the "young communist crusaders") by a lack of expert knowledge and poor formal education (sometimes combined with poor moral integrity), but with zealous ideological commitment and faith in their leaders.

Both veterans and newcomers of the "crusader" type have found common ground in their desire to exclude those who, in their view, stray from "real" feminism. They have accused those who value personal integrity above loyalty, who do not accept what they are told, and who ask awkward questions, of being "sinners" or "enemies." One volunteer, who insisted on anonymity, alleged the following abuses by leaders of women's organizations: "misuse of money belonging to SOS; lack of control over the use of mutual resources; lack of real democratic methods of decision-making; establishment of hidden cliques ("kitchen democracy"); unspoken sexual harassment on the part of lesbian veterans towards pretty and young newcomers; exposure of the most vulnerable victims of sexual abuse to so-called therapists, who often lack solid qualifications; and the launching of intrigues against distinguished feminists, mostly the ones who appear on TV programs, give interviews, etc. . . ."

The "veterans" and "young crusaders" view these feminist dissidents as a menace to their own survival. Many mainstream feminist activists have limited educations and no formal training or licensing in medicine and psychology. Their positions in women's organizations provide them with the opportunity to work and earn considerable incomes as "therapists for incest survivors" and other types of experts. They are willing to fight mercilessly against their critics in order to maintain these opportunities.

There are also individuals who try to do feminist work outside of these formal organizations. Staying outside of these groups allows them to avoid internal conflicts, but it also means passing up opportunities for information, for money, for foreign travel, and for participation in conferences. It is not yet clear how long these "individual feminists" can survive as such, and what their role will be. Are they future leaders of the feminist movement or seeds of some new movement? Are they dissidents, or maybe just idealists, too good to adapt to the world of common every-day cruelties?
The conflicts that have occurred within groups devoted to the defense of women should not obscure the work that these groups have done. The women's organizations of Belgrade have provided women with shelter, education, and legal advice. And, moreover, they have changed the nature of public discussion about domestic violence. Before SOS Hotline joined this discussion, it was dominated by all sorts of prejudices: that women were to blame for provoking violence; that they were responsible for not leaving their partners (and must, therefore, "enjoy" the violence); that domestic violence is a private matter and nobody from outside should interfere; that women ought to endure a certain amount of violence for the sake of keeping the family together, and because children need fathers; that domestic violence is, in fact, rare, sexual violence even rarer, and incest simply nonexistent in Serbia. SOS and other organizations have changed public opinion, little by little. Now, at least, nobody can deny the very existence of domestic violence as a problem of public concern.


http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/journal/vol4no3/mrsevic.html

Anonymous said...

Read Branka's story. Her Serb mother sold her to become a prostitute.

"After I left orphanage I worked as a waitress in a cafe in Bela Crkva. One day two men from Bijelo Polje came, from Montenegro, Murat and Šabo. They asked me to work in their cafe. I said yes because they offered a good salary. I worked as a waitress for a month, but then I realized that they sell waitresses and that…" Her hands are shaking. Small hands, covered with scars.

She goes on: "One evening Murat got drunk and began to take his clothes off. The girls were getting undressed, too. I was feeling uncomfortable. Murat told me too to get undressed. I didn't want to. I told him I didn't come here to do that. You can't fool with me here, either you work or you're done with, he told me. I repeated that I wouldn't do it, and he beat me up, first with the fist, than he beat my head against a wall. Then he took me to the room. We used to call it "the intensive care room". That's where he whipped me. Not only me, but the others, too. There were 15 of us. I spent a month in that room, and then I began to "work". I had to. I thought I was going to die. Men were coming from abroad. There were old men, too. Prices went from 100 DM up. I was 18 back then", the young girl explains with a calm voice. Her body is still shaking.

She bows her head: "Later on Murat made me sleep with a freak. I refused, so he whipped me. I still have scars. I've never seen an uglier man. I had to sleep with him. He gave me 200 marks. That was his rate. When he left, he gave me another hundred. Murat took it all from me. There were nights when I had to sleep with as many as six men. Some girls had even worse times. My friend Branka whose mother sold her to Murat (later on I found out she had sold me too for 300 marks to buy a nice jacket), she had even tougher life. He beat her so much that she barely stayed alive. In "intensive care". I remember it well. A wardrobe, a heater, two beds. And a wish to die."

According to her, girls stayed in the cafe for a short time. They were resold to "brothels in Pazar, Tutin". Prices ranged "around 500 marks if she was pretty". The owner didn't sell her: "An older man invited me to his table, he saw that I was young and innocent and asked how I was doing there. I told him everything. He told me he would help me and take me out. He paid 200 marks. He seemed honest. He was from Tutin. He took me to a cafe in Petnica, to Izet Lazic, and sold me for 300 marks and I was again what I was at Murat's. He beat me up, too. He heard that I had worked with customers on Mehov krš, on the Serbian-Montenegrin border, so I had to do the same there. I spent two hard and awful months. He then sold me to Berane. Again for 300 marks".

She says that she spent two days in Berane, and then went to "some Keko from Plav". She spent another two days there: " One morning a women showed up at the door. I work for her now as a waitress. I looked at her in awe. If only you know how nice she looked. Like a lady. I was asked to sit with them at the table and told that she was going to Bijela Crkva and that I could go with her. Don't do that, Keko, she said. She explained that she has a cafe near Bijelo Polje and that I can work there. I was breathless with joy for leaving Plav. I only managed to say "I will". Keko paid me off with 10 marks for two days and let me go."

Her hands never stop trembling, but her voice is different. She speaks with a smile: "She took me to her sister to eat. I ate as if I was eating for the first time in my life. Like a monster. She gave me some clothes, too, because I brought none. I bathed there, had a haircut, I dressed nicely and started working. I couldn't do mathematics, but she thought me how to. She told me that evening to go visit a man and see if I need to help him. I kneeled by the bed and began to pray. She saw me and began to cry. I realized she was the first person that ever cried for me and I was touched. I decided to listen to her. I've been a waitress at her place for a year. I haven't earned anything, but what would I do with the money anyway? I have more than I had in Bijela Crkva. I should be kissing her feet. I wouldn't leave her for any money", she ends her story. She is happy, and, as she puts it, "free".

A girl who currently lives in the north of Montenegro told this story. A tale of woe. The public is silent: sex trafficking is not talked about publicly in Montenegro. That's why, working on the story, we visited institutions dealing with women trafficking.

"Last year police organized two actions, but there were no significant results because the victims were not ready to testify in court. According to my knowledge, girls in nightclubs in Montenegro are mainly from Serbia and Republika Srpska. And they are here on their own will.", Says Vladimir Cejovic, national coordinator for fight against women trafficking.

"Sex trafficking problem in Montenegro is lessening due to permanent control at the border with Albania and Serbia, as well as the actions of the Montenegrin MUP carried out in Montenegro", stated Milan Paunovic, head of the Department for Customs Affairs and Foreigners.

At the moment there is not one victim of sex trafficking at the shelter of "The Safe Women's house", the best known NGO helping trafficked women, although the police brings them in from time to time. They claim that 26 women total have been through the shelter so far.

The International Organization for Migrations is another organization dealing with this problem. They claim they rescued two victims of trafficking - one Ukrainian women and one Moldavian.

And that is more or less everything that can be found out officially. A wall of silence or story of the past when Montenegro used to be a Mecca for many of those involved in sex trafficking.

"There is no more easy money with Ukrainian, Moldavian, Belarus women", it is much harder to earn money now, says an owner of a night bar in Podgorica.

Even he repeats that the prostitutes in Montenegro are mainly those working on their own will and they are from Republika Srpska and Serbia. An owner of a night bar in Ulcinj says: "Currently I have five girls from Srbija and Republika Srpska, they are all here voluntarily and they are in no way forced to do the job they do. On the contrary, they are here because they earn well; no one is maltreating them, as people usually think. But we are a weird people - we don't want to accept what's normal and we are officially against it, but when we turn the corner we are much more natural in our views", stated our source who instead on remaining anonymous because of, as he put it, "the nature of the work" he does.

Judging from the above stated estimates and information, there are only a few victims of sex trafficking in Montenegro at the moment and many "voluntary prostitutes".

Are things really that way? The number of NGOs and state services fighting against this form of illegal trade with women is growing. The funds that donors, mainly foreign, are giving to the organizations have also grown. Also, currently in Montenegro there are: national coordinator for sex trafficking, Project board consisting of the government members, specialized department in the Ministry of internal affairs, "Safe women's' house", "Women's' lobby", OSCE, IOM, UNICEF, SOS telephone line... They are all helping victims of sex trafficking.

Still, officially it is claimed that there is no sex trafficking in Montenegro!?.

And while trafficking and the number of victims in Montenegro are "decreasing" due to - as they claim in the Ministry of the Interior Affairs - good control on the borders with Albania and Serbia, all information point to the conclusion that trafficking presents a problem in the neighboring countries. Is it possible that Montenegro is an "oasis of peace"?

In mid-September 21 people were arrested in the Albanian port of Valona. A few days later two unidentified female bodies were found in Vraka. The information has not been published in the Montenegrin media, although it all happened in the neighborhood, some thirty kilometers from Podgorica, capital of Montenegro. The wall of silence?

Albanian NGOs who found out about this case claim that both the arrested women and the ones whose bodies were found were victims of white slavery. There was also and open suspicion that they made it to Albania from Montenegro. However, the MUP representatives claim that they did not come from Montenegro.

If that is true, then why was there a meeting in Podgorica with the officials of the Albanian police on November 26 where this case was discussed among other things? The police officially stated that there were talks about "improving the cooperation". What kind of cooperation - one can only speculate.

Still, some Montenegrin officials claim things are not that ideal as they say in the Montenegrin MUP.

"The situation has gotten worse in the last two years ", says the state attorney Božidar Vukcevic. "According to the 2000 report, 19 persons were accused of sex trafficking. Nine were sentenced", Vukcevic claims.

Snežana Pavicevic, the representative of IOM in Montenegro (the organization that rescued two victims of sex trafficking) also claims that the situation is getting worse: "Women trafficking is only beginning to grow. There are more and more of them in Montenegro. An increase in the number of girls coming from Serbia is especially noticeable.", Pavicevic says. According to her, Montenegro is the destination country, i.e. the country where the women who are being sold end up staying.

Doris Pollet, deputy of the head of OSCE office in Podgorica thinks that Montenegro is a transit country and that the women stay here for a few weeks or months, and then their "owners" sell them on. Most often to Albania or Italy. However, Pollet thinks that Montenegro could soon become the final destination of the women who were sold and forced into prostitiution.

Although the bar owners that we talked to claim that their "workers" are there voluntarily, Doris Pollet claims that eighty percent of the prostitutes are forced to do that, while for the remaining twenty percent it is a matter of choice.

OSCE recognizes so-called "seasonal" prostitution as yet another problem in Montenegro. "During summer season the number of trafficked women working in bars along the Montenegrin coast grows. Doris Pollet claims that prostitution "moves" to private houses due to more intensive police control. "Half a year ago police informed us that the problem with foreign citizens in Montenegro is not that big any longer. However, they were moved to private houses or replaced with Serbian women who don't need papers for legal residence." says Pollet.

Is the sex trafficking problem in Montenegro lessening or is the situation getting worse - it is impossible to conclude from the statements of those who should know. Some think that sex trafficking does not exist, others are fighting against its "growth". It would be nice if officials would come to common grounds on the issue. It would be a starting point if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I was recently a member of KFOR. I was offered prostitutes regularly. The prostitutes were always Serbian, Moldavian, Bulgarian or Russian. The pimps were Serbian and Russian. I NEVER saw one single Albanian prostitute. From what I saw and experienced first hand, the sex trafficking is a Slav problem.

Anonymous said...

I was recently a member of KFOR. I was offered prostitutes regularly. The prostitutes were always Serbian, Moldavian, Bulgarian or Russian. The pimps were Serbian and Russian. I NEVER saw one single Albanian prostitute. From what I saw and experienced first hand, the sex trafficking is a Slav problem.

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OSCE training said...

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