"Women in Croatia"

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Mon Aug 30 06:37:50 MDT 1999

Tatjana Pavlovic writes in "Women in Croatia: Feminists, Nationalists, and
Homosexuals," _Gender and Politics in the Western Balkans: Women and Society in
Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Successor States_, ed. Sabrina P. Ramet (University
Park, PA: Penn State UP, 1999):
***** While Croatian conservative women's groups are supported by the
government, radical feminists are vilified and destroyed. The most disturbing
case, that of "the five witches," happened in the beginning of the 1992 war. On
11 December 1992, Zagreb's popular weekly _Globus_ published an article entitled
"Croatian Feminists Rape Croatia." The article claimed to be exposing Croatian
feminists' "lies" to the Croatian people. It accused five "feminist witches"
(Jelena Lovric, Rada Ivekovic, Slavenka Drakulic, Vesna Kesic and Dubravka
Ugresic) of "dissimulating" the rapes of Bosnian and Croatian women. They were
guilty, the article said, because they had analyzed these wartime rapes in terms
of gender instead of seeing rape solely as a consequence of Serbian
aggression....The "five witches" were accused of undermining their country by
writing in the foreign press not only about the position of women in Croatian
post-communist society but also about press censorship, media manipulation, and
restrictions on freedom of speech in Croatia. In all-too-typical irony, the five
feminists were vilified for airing dirty laundry in public by publishing their
criticism abroad, precisely when no one dared to publish them within Croatia.
...The article asserted:

Since most of these ladies had serious problems in finding male partners as well
as real and serious fields of intellectual interest, they chose feminism as
their own "destiny," ideology and profession....The few among them who, despite
their theoretical position and physical appearance, did succeed in finding
marriage partners, chose according to the official Yugoslav standards: a Serb
from Belgrade by Ivekovic, a Serb (two times) from Croatia by Drakulic, and a
Serb from Croatia by Lovric.

...Feminism is portrayed by the Croatian media as being both crudely equivalent
to hatred of men and a part of the old Marxist/communist/Yugoslav political
milieu. This is particularly ironic since, in the times of socialism, the group
Zena i drustvo (Women and Society) to which Ivekovic, Drakulic, and Kesic
belonged, was denounced by Communist Party leaders as "an anti-Communist and
anti-Marxist element, which drags into Croatia the bourgeois and decadent
ideology of the West."
[Conservative women's groups Kareta and Bedem Ljubavi] are [besides attacking
the "five witches"] also very vocal in issues surrounding motherhood and
demographics. They are involved with other conservative organizations and
individuals working in this direction....The most influential conservative
organizations are the HPP (Croatian Population Movement) and the Zavod za
zastitu materinstva, obitelji i djece (Institute for the Protection of
Motherhood, Family, and Children)....The Croatian Population Movement is headed
by Don Anto Bakovic and Ruzica Cavar....In Bakovic's article "Contemplation on
Spiritual Renewal" (in his _Spiritual Renewal of Croatia_ [Zagreb, 1992]), he
wrote that "in terms of abortion we still live in Serbo-communism."...
In Croatia, many doctors already recommend that women seeking abortions should
make an appointment with a so-called abortion committee. [In almost all Zagreb
hospitals, there are posters on walls with moral messages against abortion,
message from the Pope on the abortion issue, and similar pro-life propaganda.
This fact is very disturbing since these hospitals are state and not private
(Catholic) hospitals.] These committees do not have a legal status in Croatia
and they are basically appointed by themselves. However, many women are pushed
into consulting with the abortion committee. Several of these committees consist
of pro-life doctors and even some priests....
...The program for Demographic Development passed by the Croatian Parliament
stated that "due to a higher deathrate than birthrate" there was a huge and
general threat of extinction of the Croatian Nation. They called for stopping
the "national hemorrhage." Increasing the birthrate is described as "demographic
renewal of Croatian people and family."... (136-141)
[Tatjana Pavlovic is an assistant professor of Spanish and women's studies at
Willamette University.] *****

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