Students protest dean’s appointment over sex abuse claims - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, June 7, 2024

Students protest dean’s appointment over sex abuse claims

Hundreds of University of Belgrade students demonstrated Friday against the appointment of a dean they accuse of sexually harassing women for years, a rare protest in a country where patriarchal traditions remain strong.

Accusations against the professor, Slavisa Orlovic, date back more than 20 years, but his potential appointment as dean of the political science faculty in Serbia’s capital has prompted several women to speak out on social media.

Students blocked access to the university and organisers promised further action if Orlovic’s candidacy is approved by the Faculty Council in a decision set for Friday.

“This faculty should show us what true values are, but it has failed,” 28-year-old student Jovana Krstic, who helped organise the protest, told reporters.

In 2014, when Orlovic was serving as vice dean, a female student filed a complaint against him with the university alleging sexual harassment.

He was later removed from the position though the official reason given was unsatisfactory cooperation with the faculty administration.

“If the faculty is represented by a man who has been abusive for over 25 years, why does anyone think he will stop when he gets this position?” said Jelena Riznic of the informal Women’s Solidarity collective that has been posting students’ testimonies on social media for weeks.

The faculty’s current dean, Dragan Simic, voiced support for the protesters.

“As a father of a daughter, I am more than concerned that such things are happening,” said Simic.

“When I say I am shocked, outraged, it’s an understatement. There are not strong enough words in the Serbian language to express what I feel when I hear all these testimonies.”

AFP contacted Orlovic and the police for comment but received no immediate reply.


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