NGO Atina: Who cares about the victims’ dignity?

Who cares about the victims’ dignity?

Photo: Columbia Spectator Website

If we do not agree that “mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give“ it will be difficult to agree on anything else. This quote of the preamble of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, is something the majority of people would say it is understood that it is indisputable. It is the same thing like asking a question: “Is there anyone against the peace?“ However, reality refutes to accept that.

The Declaration on the Rights of the Child says that “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give;”

One of the most common prejudices related to children that have been experiencing violence is that their suffering ends once the aggressor is under arrest.  What is more, what has been happening and what has become integrated and omnipresent manner of conduct in Serbia, the system that should protect children has been swooping down on them, stigmatizing them, thereby irretrievably stripping them of the chance to recover. There are numerous examples of that, and we have been witnessing it. Even though in some instances the perpetrators are behind the bars, owing to different circumstances, the violence against a child that is a victim is continued – by the system or the society itself, by threatening their right to privacy and data confidentiality. It also happens when the media disclose their identities and report details on sexual abuse they had been exposed to. Sadly, due to overall confusion and apathy we live in on a daily basis, the citizens fail to see that by harming other people’s rights, we are also harming our own rights. By threatening the rights of the child to its privacy and by allowing the breach of their rights, we threaten our own privacy and right; today it is the right of the child that is a victim, while tomorrow it will be the right of some of us. That is reality.  

Even though we are all different, we do not enjoy equal rights and privileges in a society, we do not have equal possibilities, we are needed to the once who can’t protect themselves, and the ones that find our support of great importance.  As a result of that a study “Mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give “ has been created; its publisher is organization Atina with it objective not only to be the reminder and prevent these situations from happening again, but also to indicate to the professionals in Serbia that they are obliged to re-evaluate their actions, as well as to fully apply existing laws and prevent revictimization of the child who is the victim of sexual violence.

The authors have also included in their study the phenomena that occur as a result of the wrongly established system of the  beliefs in a society. Just one of those phenomena is blaming the victim for the sexual abuse she has experienced, while at the same time publicly amnestying the abuser. Also, the existence of so-called post-truth, falsifying the facts freely, while disseminating open untruths, often offensive, and sending the message to the public thus contributing to many children becoming easy prey to the sexual abusers.

Even though the study depicts the case of solely one girl, the victim of human trafficking and sexual abuse – Ana, sadly, this is not a single case. The study shows the overview of the existing situation in practice where harmful actions keep reoccurring, such as information leakage from the authorized institutions, as well as disclosure of identity of the minor victims of human trafficking, as well as details of their sexual abuse to the broad audience through the media. Besides, as we can see in the study, Ana’s problems have not disappeared upon the arrest of the trafficker, but they have increased due to inappropriate actions of the authorized entities and their failure to take necessary steps to protect this child. 

Even though there are professionals breaking the law intentionally, leaking of information that harms the victim happens also due to recklessness or ignorance. Anyway, the officer who has sent the information to the media or other interested parties is accountable for the leakage. That is criminal offence which is subject to three years of imprisonment. However, why the professionals get away with this responsibility and how they do it – are questions that need to be answered. To that end, this study provides concrete solutions, i.e. 12 steps to tackling causes and consequences that lead to breaching the right to privacy and data confidentiality of the minor victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking.

The study is intended for interested and professional public, employees of the state institutions, i.e. everyone working on personal data protection, protection of the rights of the child, protection of the victims of human trafficking and the victims of sexual abuse, not only in Serbia but also across borders.  Moreover, this study can be valuable reference material for understanding this topic that can be beneficial to the civil society organizations, private sector, media, academic community and others.  

The study has been created within the project “Reclaiming Privacy: A Tool to Fight Oppression“ that has been implemented jointly by organization Atina, Partners Serbia, SHARE Foundation, A11, Da se zna and Belgrade Open School, with the support of European Union.  

The study can be found via the following link:

The original text can be found via the following link:

Belgrade, August 2021, Jelena Hrnjak, the author of the study