Women’s Room – Center for Sexual Rights and Trans Aid – Association for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Trans, Inter and Gender Non-conforming People are conducting research on the experiences and needs of trans and gender non-conforming persons in the Republic of Croatia, as well as the obstacles to the realization of a safe and dignified life. The survey aims to collect data on the current needs and problems faced by the said group of people to create recommendations and strategies to encourage further social change in order to achieve the human rights of gender non-conforming persons.

The study consists of in-depth interviews lasting one to do three hours. The questions in the interview itself are related to the development of identity, practice, social climate, education, and experience in accessing health services, legal framework and other obstacles they face. All information collected within the interviews will be treated as strictly confidential and only the researchers will have access to transcripts of interviews. Nobody else will have full access to the interviews, and the only data that actually gets published will assure absolute anonymity. Audio records and transcripts will be permanently deleted within six months from the occurrence of the interview.

All trans and gender non-conforming persons that lived/are currently living in the Republic of Croatia are invited to participate in the survey and kindly asked to contact the researchers through e-mail: transaidcroatia@gmail.com or phone 091/795 – 1986, after which the research team will contact them to make arrangements about the time and the place of the interview.

Given that this research is the first research carried out with trans and gender non-conforming persons in Croatia, it is extremely important to collect information to improve the social and legal status of our community.

Invitation to Participate in Research (on Croatian language).

The students of the Department of Psychology, University of Zagreb, under the supervision of PhD Željka Kamenov, professor, PhD Margareta Jelić and Aleksandra Huić, PhD, within the Psychology Summer School, are conducting a scientific research on minority stress of the LGB population in Croatia.

All interested persons of legal age of homosexual and bisexual orientation are invited to participate in the scientific research. Filling out the online questionnaire is completely anonymous, takes about 30 minutes and is available at the following address: questionnaire.

The workshop “Gender, Without Mincing Words”, organized by the Trans Aid and LGBT initiative AUT from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, is being held on Saturday, May 31st, 2014, from 2 to 5 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Infoshop Library Pippilotta, Pierottijeva 11, Zagreb.

The use of language conceptualizes and conveys different ways in which we perceive, experience and understand the world around us. Some experiences are more easily communicated and thought out through the available symbolic forms, while others are often suppressed and silenced. How are the existing power relations in the language that produce inequality based on the concept of gender built and maintained? What cracks in the language can open up space for speaking about oneself, about one’s own experiences? Can we, and how, avoid gender expression in the Croatian language, or express gender neutrally? How has the linguistic concept of gender transformed over time and in different cultural contexts? What are the possibilities of resistance to the pre-set binary system of gender in the language we have?

These and related questions will be answered at the workshop, to which all interested persons are invited.

Hollaback! Croatia, the local branch of the international movement for preventing street harassment of women and LGBTQ individuals, launched their campaign of “Safe Places”, with the aim of creating a network of non-threatening and supportive places in the city of Zagreb.

Street harassment or gender-based harassment in public places does not stop after walking into an enclosed space. This can cause a feeling of helplessness and people who experience this sort of harassment are silent about it, unless they have confidence that the staff of the said facilities will understand the problem and respond in an appropriate manner. Street harassment is a pervasive form of gender-based violence, which is most often experienced by women and LGBTQ persons. About 90% of women worldwide have experienced street harassment at some point in their lives. Such a reality severely restricts freedom of movement of women and LGBTQ people, causing high levels of anxiety and serves as a reminder that the society is still considering them as second-class citizens. The constant threat of violence can often prevent those who are being harassed to stand up for themselves.

By encouraging the owners of clubs and bars to make a priority of the safety of women and LGBT people, Hollaback! Croatia hopes to foster an environment in which harassment is tolerated neither on the street nor indoors.

In an effort to create a safer Zagreb Hollaback! Croatia is working directly with the bouncers, waiters and waitresses of the clubs. Once the clubs agree to participate in the campaign, members of the organization discuss and educate the employees on the specific needs of those who experience gender-based violence, on how to receive complaints without blaming the victim, and are then guided through role-play scenarios specific to each site to ensure readiness to cope with a multitude of different situations. Clubs are also provided with educational materials that serve as a useful tool for the staff in situations where complaints appear to help them to ensure a safer area. This package includes simple instructions of what to do and what not do when talking with a victim of harassment, a flyer with statistics about street harassment, official Hollaback! guide for employers for the prevention of street harassment, and a poster for the club to clearly state for everyone that such harassment is unwanted.

For more information or to participate in the campaign, Hollaback! Croatia can be contacted through: croatia@ihollaback.org

A round table on the topic of „Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abusement of Children: Accomplishments and Challenges“ was organized by the Association of Parents Step by step, on May 13th, 2014 at the Great hall of Školska knjiga in Zagreb. A same named round table was also organized three years ago, which parallel to the beginning of a campaign by the European Council for Stopping Sexual Abusement of Children named „One of Five“.
Many presenters have tried to answer the question of what has changed in the last three years and analysed the achievements and challenges in the past three years in relation to the problem of sexual violence against children. The moderator of the round table Gorana Hitrec, prof. psych. from the Association of Parents Step by Step, stated that there were several accomplishments achieved in the last three years. The Croatian Parliament ratified the European Counsel’s Convention about Protecting Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abusement, the police and the Croatian legislation have been improved on the matter of their accessibility to working with children, cooperation with the media has slowly been improving and the experts working with children are continuously being educated. Gorana Hitrec stressed the importance of systematic data collection on both the victims and the offenders of said crimes, treatment involvement of the non-abusing parent, introduction and implementation of sex education in schools and the introduction of efficient and preventive programs.
Ivana Milas Klaric, Ombudswoman for Children, pointed out that Croatia although ratified the Convention of the Council of Europe – part of the recommendations are still not being implemented and another part are being executed only normatively. She also pointed out the issue of very lengthy litigation, the large number of different examiners when taking evidence from children, lack of support systems, institutions and experts and the lack of supervision and monitoring of perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Bruna Profaca, from the Polyclinic for Child Protection of the City of Zagreb, presented the details of their clinical sample according to which 10.8% of Croatian children have experienced some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime, of which a 80% were the female children. Number of child abuse increases with age. Profaca has pointed out that children are often re-victimized and re-traumatized by improper testing, for which there’s a great need to work on. She also suggested that the Polyclinics for Child Protection are needed all over Croatia, and not just in the City of Zagreb. Marina Ajduković from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb also stressed the need for the introduction and implementation of sex education in schools in order to prevent sexual abuse and protect children. The next presenter at the round table was Sanja Gospodionović, police officer for juvenile delinquency and crime at the expense of family and youth. Gospodinović referred to the fact that to prove a criminal offense committed against children, the police officers need a high level of knowledge and a highly sensitized approach. This is achieved through a continuous and special education (being implemented for thirteen years now) in which police officers expressing a special affinity for working with children are sent to complete a specific training course and then awarded the title of specialized officers for youth. President of the Juvenile Section of the County Court in Zagreb, Lana Petö Kujundzic, presented the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of crimes against sexual freedom where children are victims. Petö Kujundzic agreed with the previous presenters regarding the necessary urgency of acting by not only policemen and policewomen, but also social services, public prosecutors and litigation in general. She also noted that on the whole, Croatian facilities in which children are being interrogated are not children-friendly, that not all courts have experts for working with children and that the social welfare centers and family centers do not have special departments and people designated to working with abused children.
The final part of the roundtable focused on the role of sex education in the educational system. Jóna Pálsdóttir presented experiences from Iceland through their project “Awakening of Consciousness.” Education in Iceland is used as a tool for the prevention of sexual abuse against and among children. Pálsdóttir continued by presenting an educational film that is used in sexual education. The Croatian issue of the role of health education in the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation of children was presented by Aleksandar Štulhofer from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. Štulhofer referred to the attacks on the content of the program, i.e. the Curriculum of Health Education, which led to the censorship of the authors of the program. He noted that health education is a continuous process and that it is necessary to observe the youth culture and listen to their needs. Štulhofer stressed that the content of health education is not the desired final product and that its current school schedule is insufficient for the purpose of better and faster education of young people. The last presenter at the roundtables Silvija Stanić from the Association of Parents Step by Step presented the CAP program, intended for the prevention of child abuse, and pointed out that the task of professionals and experts, and the entire society, is to continue to invest in working with the youth on the prevention of sexual abuse, risky sexual behaviour, etc.

Meeting of partner organizations on the joint project “Through Education to Knowledge – Through Cooperation for Change” was held on May 12th, 2014 in Rijeka. The National Foundation for Civil Society Development financially supports project

The project is implemented by the Women’s Room – Center for Sexual Rights as the holder of the project, the Women’s Association “HERA” from Krizevci, Center for Women Adela from Sisak, Association Brod – Group for Women Human Rights and SOS Telephone – City of Rijeka.

At the meeting of the partner organizations evaluations were conducted of previous activities carried out and the participants agreed upon the further course of the activities. Participants of the meeting agreed on further steps necessary for successful implementation of the project in order to achieve the set goals. The project objectives are to strengthen the capacity and visibility of the organization through the transfer of specific knowledge and skills among organizations, initiating informal network of civil society organizations that provide direct assistance and support for women victims of violence (including shelters and counseling) and raising awareness and sensitizing the general public and active participation of citizens in the process of the democratisation of society.

On May 15th, 2014 on the occasion of the International Day of Families, Association HERA Krizevci marks 10 years of counseling for victims of domestic violence. The counseling has started operating on May 8th, 2004.

At the celebration, which will take place at 1 p.m. in the lesser basement hall of the Croatian House, the expert associates of the Counseling Centre will be presenting an overview of their work so far. Sanja Cesar, from the Centre for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI, Zagreb) will present the project “Stop the Violence – Prevention of Teen Relationship Violence” under which she will talk about the difference of teen dating violence and domestic violence. A group of students from the Gymnasium Ivana Zakmardije Dijankovečkog, High School “Ivan Seljanec” Krizevci and Secondary school Vrbovec will speak about violence and present the initiative “REACT”.

The final part of the celebration of the 10 years of counseling for victims of domestic violence of the Association HERA will include awarding acknowledgements and a performance by Krizevci majorettes who will perform “Break the Chain”, a dance act created as part of the V – Day and dance uprising One Billion Rising.

As a part of the International Day of Fighting Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th, 2014 the Association Studio of Laughter, Centre for Civic Initiatives Porec and the Association Standup.rs are gathering to promote freedom, diversity and acceptance by presenting the project “Laugh Out Proud”.

These associations are fighting against homophobia and transphobia using humor. The project aims to educate the public about the LGBT community through laughter and initiating a good atmosphere. The comedians that will be performing the stand-up program are a part of the LGBT community. The project starts on May 14, 2014 in Belgrade, followed by Rijeka and Porec and the entire event ends on May 17thin Zagreb, on the actual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

International Family Equality Day (IFED) is celebrated worldwide for the third time, on the first weekend in May. The initiative to mark this day was launched by Network of European LGBT Family Associations (NELFA) in order to raise social awareness on the need of achieving equality of all families and on developing legal framework where LGBTQ families would have the same legal protection and rights as heterosexual families. The number of LGBTQ families in the world is increasing.

This year, Croatia joins the celebration of International Family Equality Day for the first time. The celebration is organized by “Dugine obitelji” organization (Rainbow families). Modelled on similar organizations in the world, “Dugine obitelji” gather LGBTQ couples and individuals who either already have children or who would like to have them, but also all LGBTQ persons who would like to find out more about challenges and positive aspects of planning a LGBTQ family.

“Dugine obitelji” wish to invite everyone interested to join them on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 7 p.m. on round table “Family planning” in multimedia institute MaMa (Preradovićeva 18) in Zagreb.

On the following day, Saturday 4 May 2014 at 2 p.m. a picnic will be organized on Tuškanac in Zagreb, on the green area between Dubravkin put and the Academy of Fine Arts. In case of bad weather, instead of the picnic a brunch and mingling will be held at multimedia institute MaMa, also starting at 2 p.m.

Admission to all events is free of charge, but please confirm your attendance by sending an e-mail to: branimir.lukic@gmail.com.