By Medina Malagic – Sarajevo
Over the past few days, the media headlines in B&H has been focused on a recently opened Facebook page that displays young, underage girls in overtly sexualized and degrading poses, and several B&H media portals have published images from the Facebook page of the girls.
Today, new evidence has emerged from the Serbian portal ‘Telegraf’ that revealed the founder of this Facebook page to be an underage boy from Croatia, who was apparently able to convince girls to send him photographs and subsequently publish them on Facebook.
The Facebook page has been deemed scandalous. Provocative photographs have been published on the Facebook group of young girls from the Western Balkan region, along with their full names. The founder of the group, Renato E. used a fake name to open a Facebook account, and he allegedly persuaded girls to send him provocative photographs.
So far, the Facebook page has over 64.000 likes, and people are urged to send photographs in order to contribute to the content of the page.
Some girls whose photographs have been published on this Facebook page have come forward to express their astonishment at ending up on this page. They have alleged that some photographs were taken from their Facebook pages and used for the purposes of this degrading Facebook page.
In only a few days since this Facebook page was founded, 13 more Facebook pages have emerged, either with the same name or similar. These pages are copycats of the first one, replete with insults, degrading and misogynistic comments towards females.
The Sarajevo Open Center was quick to respond to this escalating situation. They have sent out a message to B&H media, urging them to stop with the practice of publishing explicit photographs of underage girls in the media.
‘’In the past few days, especially on B&H portals and all other print media, news has emerged about the Facebook group ‘biggest sluts in high school and secondary schools’. Although there was good intention of some media reporting, in order to draw attention to the violence perpetrated against these girls, the way it is being done sensationalizes and and compromises. We call on all media in B&H to adhere to the highest media standards and to act in the best interest of children and young people. Publishing photographs in media reporting could seriously jeopardize the girls, their families and their immediate surroundings. In addition, the trauma that could be caused by the media could leave far-reaching consequences’’.
Also, Sarajevo Open Center brings attention to the fact that articles that are sensationalized have to be moved, or changed, in a way that does not threaten the human integrity of the girls who have been affected.
This story, which has been dominating media headlines in B&H and also in the region, shows that the line is often blurred between the display good intentions in order to disseminate information to the public, and the resulting sensationalism and over-exposure. Ultimately, this type of reporting could potentially have a detrimental impact, since it could merely serve as a public outlet for certain preconceived notions, which has already been made clear from the affirmative comments on many of the published pictures on the Facebook group. In the end, it is the victims who will suffer the consequences and social stigma at the hands of manipulators.