Mocking both victims and institutions: How a convicted pimp Mihailo Maksimović became a seemingly important guest on national television programs

Mocking both victims and institutions: How a convicted pimp Mihailo Maksimović became a seemingly important guest on national television programs

Milica Radenković

20/04/2022 18.09

Few would have heard of Mihailo Maksimović if this convicted pimp had not written a book about his "job" and then became a welcomed guest in many media, including those with a national frequency.

Even though he was convicted for mediation in prostitution, and is currently being prosecuted for the criminal offence of human trafficking, Maksimović became a seemingly relevant guest on the topic of the legalization of prostitution.

That is why the Autonomous Women's Center (AWC) addressed an open letter to the Republic Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac, urging her to investigate whether the media that is inviting Maksimović and advertising his book has committed the criminal offence of "mediation in prostitution".

"Mediation in prostitution" is defined in the Criminal Code as an act which implies that "prostitution is advertised by means of media or otherwise promoted”.

Jelena Hrnjak from NGO Atina, which deals with the protection of victims of human trafficking, says that in this case there is no doubt that the media must be called to bear the responsibility. However, she adds that the responsibility should be shared by others as well.

- I do not consider the media solely responsible, but also the institutions which allow public advertising of prostitution and do nothing to prevent it, primarily the competent police departments, prosecutor's office, and judiciary. Mihailo Maksimović mocks the police, the judiciary and the prosecutor's office, as well as the public and the women he had exploited and continues to exploit. The most problematic issue is the public relativization of mediation in prostitution, giving space to a convicted person to brag about a committed crime, demeaning the victims and sending the wrong message to the public - that mediation in prostitution is not a terrible crime and can pay off, even if a person is convicted. – Hrnjak said.

She stated that "every time repeatedly convicted criminal Mihailo Maksimović appears in the media, he encourages further violence and exploitation of women, all women in our society, not only women in prostitution."

- He participates in the production of that violence, along with those who provide him with space in the public sphere and life – Hrnjak said.

In an open letter to Zagorka Dolovac, the Autonomous Women's Center cited several examples of Mihailo Maksimović's guest appearances on various TV stations during the last month alone, where he spoke, among other things, about the legalization of prostitution. Maksimović was a guest on TV Prva, Kurir, Studio B, Pink…

Lawyer Nebojša Perović believes that discussions on the decriminalization of prostitution should not be held in the media, but "within working groups that include experts from various fields, who can be invited to give their opinion on whether a certain crime can be decriminalized."

- The criminal offence of mediation in prostitution includes promoting or advertising prostitution by means of the media and the like. It is true that prostitution has been decriminalized in some of the EU countries, but mediation has not - Perović pointed out.

In the end, the Autonomous Women's Center reminds the media that the names of the accused women should not be published when reporting on prostitution, because there is a possibility that they are victims of human trafficking.

- We appeal to all the media to report on prostitution through the prism of male violence against women, not through the prism of ‘elite work’. Women who managed to exit prostitution say that there is nothing elite in the organized network of pimps and clients whose demands and needs they had to obey – stated the AWC.

A guide for dealing with criminal offences

Jelena Hrnjak also says that Mihailo Maksimović's book, which is being promoted in the media, "represents a form of a guide for committing such crimes". "The real issue is the lack of reaction from the authorities to his allegations and to the content of the book itself. For example, the book describes elements of association for the purpose of committing criminal acts which are punishable by our legislation and refer to organized criminal groups involved, in this case, in the mediation in prostitution," said Hrnjak.

Serbia does not need legalization

"In our positive legislation, engaging in prostitution is a misdemeanour which entails punishment with a fine or imprisonment, but punishment is also threatened for persons who are using these services, which means that our society currently recognizes prostitution as something that is prohibited. If we take into account the standard in our society and the standard in the EU countries, where prostitution is legalized, we can clearly come to the conclusion that we are not yet ready for such a thing," Nebojša Perović said.

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