Hello everyone! I thought introducing myself and my future fellowship in Serbia with two photos would speak for itself more as it is colorful… So is these places are only imaginary for you, to me, they will both be familiar very soon. Of course, this picture on the top is very well known to me because it is my home town: Annecy, a quiet city in the French Alps , whose proud inhabitants like to compare it to Venice … The other, on the nottom, yet to be discovered for me, is Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, known more for its belligerent past than for the treasures I’m sure it has to offer.
You may first wonder why I’m heading to this destination. In fact, I had the chance to be recruited by The Advocacy Project (AP), a Washington DC based organization whose aim is to strengthen the capacities of local NGOS by sending people on the field for three months, in a shoulder-to-shoulder perspective. In my case, the original, fair partnership which puts organizations on an equal footing , will take place between AP and the Victimology Society of Serbia, where I’ll be helping with the launching of an IANSA campaign focused on “disarming domestic violence”. IANSA, an AP’s partner, whose acronym stands for the “International Action Network on Small Arms”, is an umbrella NGO of more than 800 civil society organizations working in different field (women’s groups, research institutes, aid agencies, human rights organizations…..) but whose actions are commonly undermined by the presence of guns. So gathering into a network aims at stopping the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, which stand in the way of their actions.
The specific campaign on domestic violence I was referring to above, lead by the women network, starts with an awful observation: Women are at 3 times the risk of being killed by an intimate partner when a gun is in the home, no matter the level of development of the country. And the presence of guns in homes go beyond deaths for women: it also reduces a woman’s ability to resist, escape or get some help from others, while obviously reducing her chance of surviving an assault. Therefore, the campaign will consist on lobbying on every ground to grow awareness on the consequences of the presence of arms at home for women, trying to make the link between national laws on arms control and domestic violence.
There’s another reason for me to get excited about going to Serbia and this is linked to my personal background and interest: concerned with the building of sustainable peace to prevent future conflicts in deeply divided societies, I wrote a dissertation last year on the Balkan penal system established to judge war crimes responsible after the bloody wars that need no further introduction. While working on it, I realized women were particular targets of specific crimes in times of war and that they were unequally affected by violence in general. So advocating for women’s rights and being on the field of what has been the subject of many readings will help me getting a clearer picture of the region and give me the feeling to come full circle by thinking about concrete solutions to alleviate their conditions of living.
I hope this brief introduction got you in, and excited as much as I am . So welcome on board, the “Jat Airways” flight n° 8756 to Belgrade takes off tomorrow… stay connected for further news and adventures…
Posted By Fanny Grandchamp
Posted Jun 5th, 2009