Sunday, 24 September 2023
Silence is approval: The need to speak against violence Maja Topcagich

Silence is approval: The need to speak against violence

Written by  Alejandra Gotóo Aug 21, 2023

Last Monday, there was a protest in Mostar for women’s rights. I saw it on Instagram and felt happy, but soon I became worried. My thoughts raced. On the one hand, it's heartening to see people caring for women’s rights. On the other hand, the occurrence of a protest might indicate a troubling incident. I asked a friend who lives there and attended the march. She confirmed that a woman had been murdered. Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina lacks the legislation to classify it as a feminicide.

BDuv hF0

Photo - Maja Topcagich

Words hold significance. Our thoughts are shaped by the words we know. A poignant example of this concept is depicted in George Orwell's 1984. In Oceania, a fictional nation, the new political order introduces Newspeak – a language simplification. Instead of expressing elaborate thoughts, ideas are truncated. Orwell suggests that this linguistic modification will eventually impede the party members from articulating their feelings and thoughts. Our expression is confined to our vocabulary. Simplifying language curtails our capacity to address intricate matters. These notions are evident in Orwell’s novel and his essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946). In it, we read: “When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. [...] But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

Untitled design 2023 08 21T175934.041

Photo - Maja Topcagich

That being so, I must insist that the words must be precise, comprehensive, and functional. It is necessary to describe situations adequately. Thus, the killing of Nizama Hecimovic must be classified as a feminicide. The killer had a history of domestic violence, but no action was taken to protect Nizama and her baby. The killer ended up livestreaming the beating and murder. What is more shocking than the fact that people watched that is that according to a Metro UK article: “his live stream was liked 126 times and that people wrote supportive messages under his posts on Friday.” (Krasteva, Gergena)


Photo - Maja Topcagich

There might be some doubts about what a feminicide is. First, this concept is deeply loaded with political meaning. Broadly it refers to the killing of women for being women. I will outline common circumstances associated with such killings to elucidate the concept. These bullet points are summarized from the book Femicide across Europe: Theory, research and prevention as well as Rita Segato’s “Femigenocidio y feminicidio: una propuesta de tipificación”.

  • The woman was killed by an intimate partner (such as a boyfriend, a husband, rather former or current).
  • The woman's death is the result of harmful behavior; it is not an accident nor a mistake in judgment.
  • The woman was killed because someone (a man or woman that accepts men’s values) believes she has defied the patriarchal order beyond what the judge (killer) is prepared to tolerate.
  • It includes sexual violence, not necessarily rape, but the degradation of the woman’s body.
  • The woman’s body needs to be conquered; thus, it is humiliated and displayed for others to see that the offense has been repaid.

Violence against women is pervasive. I got out of Mexico, where ten women are murdered every day. Then, I experienced Croatian society, where women confided in me about being punched, dragged, or pushed by their boyfriends. While visiting a country, we tend to overlook the darker aspects. Violence against women is socially accepted, even if we like to think that women now have rights and are respected. There are several types of violence: economic, psychological, emotional, and physical. Do not be quiet if you see something weird. Silence is approval.


Photo - Maja Topcagich

Let Nizama's death be the death that changes the Bosnian law to include feminicide; a great way to honor her is to name her. I do not care about the killer; purposedly, I did not write his name in this article; I read many others where he is named and renamed… what for? To name is to create, to give a certain amount of power or consequence. He is not important. He is just a killer. Removing women from society will not benefit anyone. What can we do? Research, reflect, discuss, create, and raise awareness. Share this article, read women, and support women. I hope Nizama is the only one that suffers like that in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Yet, I know right now, as I write, some woman is scared and sad due to partner violence.


Alejandra Gotóo (1991, Mexico City), who studied English Literature and recently graduated with a Masters of Social Anthropology is now writing about her time in Croatia as a columnist in Dubrovnik Times. Her work has been published in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. She has two published novels, Ruptura and Isadore or Absolute Love. Her topics of interest include nature, adventure, language, books, food, culture, animals, conservation, and women's rights. She also writes in her blog: Cardinal Humours.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook