Reaction to the Platform for Gender Equality: Life threats are not freedom of expression! Solidarity with activist and journalist Rita Behadini!

The Platform for Gender Equality strongly condemns hate speech and threats against journalist and activist Rita Behadini and calls for her safety to be guaranteed.

The Platform for Gender Equality expresses its support for the journalist and activist Rita Behadini, who received explicit threats to her physical safety on the social network "Facebook" for publishing her position in relation to the publicly stated sexist positions "for the place of women in society" from Odzat .

In solidarity with the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM), we demand an immediate reaction, because life-threatening crimes are included in the Criminal Code, for which a prison sentence is provided for the perpetrators. Hence, the MVR and the OJO have an obligation to immediately investigate and process these explicit threats and to punish those who break the law, but also to prevent such crimes in the future. Rita Behadini reported the case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVR) to the Department for Computer Crime and Digital Forensics, and as members of the Platform for Gender Equality, we will closely follow the activities that the MVR will undertake.

According to PINA's research, over 81% of 103 surveyed female journalists in the countries covered have faced online harassment because of their work, most often via the social network Facebook, where Rita also receives threats. The content of the riot most often represents hate speech, sexism, chauvinism and threats to life. But don't just threaten yourself with the problem!
The criticism in Rita's posts refers to how patriarchal values through religion contribute to the normalization of gender-based violence. At a time when gender-based violence remains unsanctioned in reality, digital violence is increasing. Thus, these threats are directed with the sole purpose of scaring and discouraging those who stand for a better world.

Women and girls who speak out in the digital space for human rights are often threatened. An online threat is a "statement of intent to cause pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action" to the person to whom the statement is directed. In addition to threats of violence in the online environment, threats are often associated with violence in the offline world - this includes threats of death, as well as threats of physical and sexual violence. Those who threaten someone with physical violence do not apply only to the journalist, they also beat her closest surroundings, such as her family, friends and colleagues and colleagues in the media.

In recent months, we have witnessed many public statements by religious leaders who are filled with hate speech directed at women and girls, activists for human rights, who incite gender-based violence by their followers. This attack on Rita is just one of many threats and attacks that are not targeting me personally, especially because she is a woman who advocates in public for gender issues. As the Platform for Gender Equality, we call on the competent institutions to process the case appropriately, to offer protection and to prevent future threats against Rit and all other female journalists and activists who are exposed to attacks.