azcNews of another baby who had suffered severe beatings by its stepfather in a prolonged period of time, has once again opened up the question of how the public reacts to mothers who are blamed for not protecting their children.

Seeing as the authorities cannot release all information to the public while there is an ongoing investigation, we are appealing to all media in Serbia to treat this topic with additional care so as not to give perpetrators of violence even more power to threaten mothers who are in the same or similar situation.

Following the news we could see comments that the mother of the beaten baby in Kraljevo had posted photos on social networks where, as media claim, bruises were visible on the child’s face. The public’s reaction in the comments were along the lines of condemning the mother as if she was the one beating the child.

How is it possible that the Serbian public does not understand that in order for a 19 year old mother, who is most certainly a victim of violence herself, to post photos with a beaten child with a caption of “we love daddy” that she must have been coerced? The Autonomous Women’s Center is surprised that the public has so quickly forgotten actions taken by (now deceased) Nermina Sulejmanovic from Gradacac in Bosnia and Herzegovina who was murdered on a live feed on a social network by the father of her child, who prior to that forced her to say whatever he demanded of her.

Or maybe the mother was actually sending out a cry for help by posting a photo on a social network, knowing her husband would allow it if it said “we love daddy”?

It is very possible that in this case the suspect had demanded from the baby’s mother that she post those photos, or that he did it himself through her account, so as to threaten her that if she were to report him she would lose the child as well, and will have criminal charges filed against her as well.

The Autonomous Women’s Center has encountered numerous situations where the perpetrators of violence report the mother of the child/children for abuse or neglect and in that way they redirect institutions to focus on protecting the child/children and forget about the violence he had committed.

The fact that the suspect was arrested in a hospital waiting room signals to us that the mother of the child was not free to speak freely until she managed to get the child to the doctor, while being accompanied by the perpetrator. We may assume that the suspect, portraying himself as a worried father, accompanied the mother and controlled everything she said. Health professionals also have experience with perpetrators of violence who come into the doctor’s office with victims and insist on being present during examination.

We are therefore once again appealing on the media and the public to stop blaming the mother of the abused child until the investigation concludes whether she is or isn’t responsible.