During the 16 days of Take Back the Tech, APC members from around the world raise awareness and build understanding around online gender-based violence (GBV) through various projects specific to their local contexts. We had a chance to catch up with one of these organisations, One World Platform (OWP), based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose campaign this year highlighted the concerns, ideas and experiences of local activists through video. In conversation with TBTT, OWP’s Project Assistant Aida Salihovic discussed the many forms of online gender-based violence that commonly occur in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the challenges of addressing this issue in terms of regulation and awareness, and the inspiring impact of bringing together activist perspectives and brainstorming effective strategies and mechanisms to feel safer online.
TBTT: This year for Take Back the Tech, One World Platform published one video a day of local activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina sharing their perspectives and understanding of online gender-based violence (GBV), and discussing what can be done to prevent it. We want to know more about what you learned from making the videos, and the conversations that were spurred as a result.
Aida Salihovic: Yes, that’s right! Every day during the 16 days of the activist campaign, we published one video on our YouTube channel as well as on our Facebook page in order to present various perspectives and understandings of online GBV. We also discussed what can be done to prevent it and who are the responsible institutions/people to deal with it. We have to admit that we have learned a lot, but we think the most important feedback that we have received is that online GBV is a serious issue that needs to be treated like any other violence. It targets everyone, but it’s on a whole new level when it comes to activists who deal with marginalised groups in any way. Everyone who is familiar with the complex situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina knows that, no matter what, you will always be somehow singled out by your ethnicity or religion. Intersectionality definitely applies when it comes to online GBV
We were also happy to see that people from our interviews were mostly aware of the issue of online GBV and knew how to deal with it. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle right now is that the law does not recognise all forms of online violence. It recognises the forms that are considered equal with some traditional ones. For example, if someone sends you a death threat, it can be treated as a crime, but the process is still quite slow and there’s many more things to be done, both in terms of raising awareness among people and improving the laws around online GBV.
TBTT: You mention that the law is inconsistent in terms of application to online GBV. What kind of forms of online violence does the law currently recognise in Bosnia?
AS: Actually, none. It sounds incredible, but it is like that. We don't have the term "online" in our Criminal Code or in any other law in relation to violence.
TBTT: So who participated in the series? How did you pick the activists to interview?
AS: The interviews took place during the convening that we had in Belgrade in October, together with the APC team. We were discussing online GBV and making a feminist internet. It was easy to find people who were interested in participating in the interviews, as all of the attendees were activists in various fields from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region. The event was called “Making a feminist internet: End online gender based violence, sustain movement”. There were many activists from organisations that have safe houses, which is, I think, one of the most crucial aspects [of dealing with GBV]. Additionally, there were activists from feminist and LGBT organisations, as well as from organisations that deal with democracy and human rights in general.
Read the full interview here.