Janet Rabin

Janet Rabin (Women in Black from Serbia): Janet’s love of Slavic and Balkan culture was sparked by a summer school Russian class that she took in elementary school. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and French at Mount Holyoke College. As a student she spent a month studying at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan studies in Sarnath, India. After living and working for a year in Edmonton, Canada, Janet returned to her hometown of Tucson, AZ to work as Community Outreach Coordinator at the International Rescue Committee. Here she worked with refugees from Bosnia, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, and Iraq. At the time of her fellowship, Janet was a Master's student at Georgetown University concentrating in International Development. After her fellowship, Janet wrote: "This was my first time being part of an activist movement, and it was an invaluable opportunity to gain perspective on the nature and interaction of concepts I usually deal with in a much more abstract fashion.”

Mobilize! Organize! Resist!

08 Jul

On June 6th, Women in Black – Belgrade held an interactive street performance protesting gun violence as part of the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence. The theme of the action was “Mobilize! Organize! Resist!” Many Advocacy Project Partner organizations also participated in this annual week of action, which is spearheaded by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

Although it is now almost a month after the event, I still wanted to share some media of the performance, in order to further illustrate the different ways WiB approach activism and public dialogue.

“Mobilize! Organize! Resist!” included Women in Black’s traditional silent protest,

Women in Black Serbia Protest Gun Violence

but also added a multimedia component. Women in Black members Jelena Chelebic and Katie Mahuron created a video which alternated facts about guns and violence in Serbia with photos of Women in Black activities. The English translation of the text in the slides is included below the video


1. Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence
Women in Black
2. Mobilize! Organize! Resist!
3. There are more than 875 million guns in circulation worldwide.
4. Another 8 million guns are manufactured throughout the world each year
5. One thousand people each day are killed through gun violence.
6. Deaths during war or armed conflict account for 250 of the 1000 deaths each day.
7. “In many countries that have suffered violent conflict, the rates of interpersonal violence remain high even after the cessation of hostilities – among other reasons because of the way violence has become more socially acceptable and availability of weapons.” The World Health Organization, World Report on Health and Safety
8.There are 1,056,314 registered civilian guns in Serbia.
9. The average number of weapons owned by a household in Serbia is 1.5
10. Guns can easily be bought on the black market in Serbia. The Jug TT can be purchased on the black market for 125 Euros, which is close to half of the average Serbian household’s monthly income.
11. There are an estimated 944,000 unregistered/illegal civilian firearms in Serbia.
12. The estimated average number of firearms in Serbia is greater than the number of phone lines in Serbia.
13. In December 2007, the Serbian military company Jugoimport-SDPR signed a 235 million dollar deal with the government of Iraq for military equipment and weapons.
14. In 2006, Serbian companies sold 9 million dollars of military equipment to the Burmese junta who is known for its extreme human rights violations.
15. We call for Serbian military industry companies to cease exporting weapons, particularly to Iraq.
16. We call for the Serbian government to enact United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in order to increase the role of women in all decision-making processes at all levels.
17. We demand a cessation to all forms of violence, especially violence against women.
18. We demand that Serbia stop exporting military equipment around the world.
19. Mobilize! Organize! Resist!

We also showed a video created by IANSA, called “Kill the Gun,” which uses one simple visual idea that still leaves a striking impression.


To see more photos from the action, visit my Flickr page

It was a good warm-up for a much larger and more controversial event happening this week: in the same place, the main public square in Belgrade, Women in Black Serbia will present a film featuring widows of the Srebrenica massacre giving their testimonies, as well as their messages to the citizens of Serbia.

Posted By Janet Rabin

Posted Jul 8th, 2008

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