Public Debate on the #TakeBackTheNight Campaign

FemACT organized a public debate in order to discuss and reflect upon the somewhat controversial #TakeBackTheNight campaign. The event was held on 12 Dec. at Dit’ e Nat’ and approximately 46 people attended.
    Panelists included Donjeta Morina, FemACT Coordinator at KWN; Eli Krasniqi, activist and sociologist; Linda Gusia, sociologist and professor at the University of Prishtina; and Hajrulla Çeku, activist and Executive Director of organization Ec ma ndryshe. Zana Hoxha-Krasniqi, activist and Executive Director of Artpolis, moderated the discussion.
    “The campaign aimed to initiate a discussion around this very widespread phenomenon, which is infrequently discussed in Kosovo,” said Donjeta Morina. “The campaign attracted many reactions: positive as well as negative. The most frequent negative criticism was directed at the hashtag itself: people claimed that a simple hashtag cannot bring about change. Another criticism involved ‘victim-blaming’, with people claiming that women get harassed because they dress ‘provocatively.’”
Hajrulla Çeku stated that this was a very necessary campaign and emphasized the importance of similar campaigns in the future and encouraged the continuation of the campaign. “Personally, I have never walked more than five minutes through public space without witnessing multiple cases of sexual harassment,” he said.
    “I was very happy about the campaign,” Eli Krasniqi stated. “There were so many positive aspects of it!” She said that she was thrilled that the word “feminism” was being used publically. The massive resistance that the campaign attracted, she explained, was due to the fact that women’s requests for equality are frequently mistaken as a request for domination.
    Linda Gusia noted the importance of “reflecting on what we can do better the next time.” Sexual harassment is deeply connected to control over freedom of movement, she said, as well as tendencies to discipline women’s bodies.
     The debate lasted two hours with audience participation. Some men felt excluded by the campaign, though KWN representatives emphasized that this was not KWN’s intent. Others raised concern with using English instead of Albanian as the campaign’s motto, as well as with regard to some of the statements used during the campaign.