Within the Special Focus programme in 2017 we have also supported the association „Žene Polimlja” from Prijepolje and their educational programme Save Our Rights.
Goal of the programme was to rethink together how the religion, tradition and cultural heritage get instrumentalized for restricting and jeopardizing human rights, as well as for justifying different forms of violence against women. The programme gathered women from Nova Varoš, Prijepolje, Priboj, Sjenica, Pljevlja and Belgrade.
The gathering included interactive lectures, workshops and watching documentary movies, which were used as starting points for discussing to what extent did we recognize such trends and practices in our local communities and society in general; what were the specific examples of violations of rights of women, especially ones perpetrated in the name of religion and tradition; what were the differences and what were common features of violations of women’s rights and dignity; what were the possibilities for resistance and what ways would be suitable.
Apart from the general conclusion that women are exposed to all forms of violence in the name of religion and customs: sexual, psychological, physical, political, socio-economic, participants also concluded that abuse of religion led to jeopardizing and abolishing of the right to freedom of opinion; restricting and/or depriving of freedom of movement, including social isolation and inability to take part in public life; jeopardizing the right of women to make their own decisions; imposing certain clothing and life styles upon women.
Bearing in mind the necessity to clearly distinguish religion as an expression of the need for spirituality and belonging from its instrumentalization for political and the purpose of oppressing different ones and ones with less power (especially women), participants stated there was a need to continue discussions on the growing theocratization of the state that endangers secularism (separation of religious institutions from the state) guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as on direct interference of religion in all pedagogical – educational, health, cultural, informational institutions and in political parties, causing discords and discrimination among people based on religious/ethnic belonging, especially in times of economic crisis and social frustrations.