Why and How on Gender-Based Violence in High Schools


A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion Ivana Zelić par­tic­i­pat­ed at the con­fer­ence enti­tled Why and How on Gen­der-Based Vio­lence in High Schools held in Bel­grade on Sat­ur­day, 13 Octo­ber. The Con­fer­ence was the final event with the teach­ers with­in the frame­work of the Zero Tol­er­ance Towards Gen­der-Based Vio­lence Project of the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter.

The Zero Tol­er­ance Towards Gen­der-Based Vio­lence Project is to be imple­ment­ed by the end of 2018 with a long-term goal to raise the lev­el of young women’s and girls’ per­son­al per­cep­tion of being safe from sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence. The project activ­i­ties are imple­ment­ed in 15 Ser­bian towns and include 30 high schools and eight fac­ul­ties of var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties. Its key fields of impact are work­ing with teach­ers, increas­ing knowl­edge among the youth and doing pub­lic activ­i­ties with them, as well as work­ing with fac­ul­ty staff and man­age­ment con­cern­ing sex­u­al harass­ment pre­ven­tion and cam­paign­ing with them aimed at pub­lic aware­ness-rais­ing. IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion is one of the local part­ner orga­ni­za­tions of the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter in this project.

The aim of the Con­fer­ence was to advance the knowl­edge of teach­ers and expert staff in high schools, as well as their expe­ri­ence- and ideas-shar­ing con­cern­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties of improv­ing pre­ven­tion and stu­dents’ pro­tec­tion from gen­der-based and domes­tic vio­lence.

Ivana Zelić from IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA talked about the sig­nif­i­cance of col­lab­o­ra­tion of schools and civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions (CSOs) con­cern­ing gen­der-based vio­lence. She point­ed out a good prac­tice exam­ple of coop­er­a­tion with Novi Sad high schools, most par­tic­u­lar­ly with the 7 April Med­ical High School and Jovan Jovanović Zmaj Com­pre­hen­sive High School. A total of 43 stu­dents (36 girls and 7 boys) attend­ed peer work­shops in these two schools. The best indi­ca­tor of their suc­cess was the work­shops’ eval­u­a­tion, their qual­i­ty get­ting top marks from the atten­dees.

Pre­ven­tion of any kind of vio­lence against chil­dren must be the basic task of all edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions and the entire soci­ety. Above all, it implies teach­ing chil­dren and youth about vio­lence through­out the edu­ca­tion sys­tem, start­ing from the kinder­garten all the way to uni­ver­si­ties. The Zero Tol­er­ance Towards Gen­der-Based Vio­lence Project, along with oth­er CSO projects and activ­i­ties, are sig­nif­i­cant because they raise the lev­el of knowl­edge and aware­ness of youth con­cern­ing gen­der-based vio­lence. They build capac­i­ties of teach­ers and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als in the edu­ca­tion sys­tem for rec­og­niz­ing and react­ing to gen­der-based vio­lence. Final­ly, such projects raise the aware­ness of the pub­lic, media and deci­sion-mak­ers about these top­ics.

Ivana Zelić point­ed out that CSOs are part­ners to schools in their efforts to com­bat gen­der-based vio­lence. Besides pre­ven­tion, the offer fol­low­ing activ­i­ties as well: victim’s sup­port and empow­er­ment to leave from the sit­u­a­tion of vio­lence, threat lev­el assess­ment and indi­vid­ual safe­ty plan­ning, coop­er­a­tion with oth­er ser­vices, free psy­choso­cial sup­port and legal aid, includ­ing offi­cial cor­re­spon­dence writ­ing and court rep­re­sen­ta­tion, medi­a­tion in plac­ing vic­tims in drop-in cen­ters and shel­ters, infor­ma­tion and refer­ral to oth­er rel­e­vant insti­tu­tions, orga­ni­za­tion of edu­ca­tion­al and psy­choso­cial pro­grams for adults and chil­dren sur­vivors of vio­lence. These are all rea­sons why their coop­er­a­tion is very impor­tant.

Oth­er speak­ers at the Con­fer­ence were Mari­na Ileš from the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter, who pre­sent­ed key project results con­cern­ing coop­er­a­tion with high schools, as well as Eleono­ra Vla­hović from the Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion Advance­ment Insti­tute on gen­der-based vio­lence in the con­text new cur­ric­u­la and teach­ing pro­grams in pri­ma­ry and high schools. Ser­bian lan­guage teach­ers Jele­na Ste­fanović and Saša Glam­očak spoke about the gen­der per­spec­tive in Ser­bian lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture teach­ing, while Tan­ja Ign­ja­tović from the Autonomous Women’s Cen­ter dis­cussed the role of high schools in pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion and sup­port in cas­es of domes­tic gen­der-based vio­lence.

After ple­nary pre­sen­ta­tions, the Con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants con­tin­ued work­ing in small groups, dis­cussing issues such as role of edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions in domes­tic and gen­der-based vio­lence pre­ven­tion, pos­si­bil­i­ties and chal­lenges of inte­grat­ing top­ics con­cern­ing gen­der-based and domes­tic vio­lence in teach­ing and oth­er high school activ­i­ties, as well as cre­at­ing a gen­er­al zero tol­er­ance cli­mate con­cern­ing vio­lence in schools.

Writ­ten by Ivana Zelić

Trans­lat­ed from Ser­bian by Anki­ca Dra­gin