Victims Discouraged by ‘Lenient’ Sentences for Sex Crimes in Serbia

He was one of at least 608 people convicted of sex crimes in Serbia between 2016 and 2020.

But eight years is more than many convicted rapists are jailed for in the Balkan country, where, according to a BIRN investigation of data for the last five years, half were sentenced to five years or less, five years being the minimum sentence under the law since 2017.

In other cases of sex crimes, many of those convicted escape jail altogether - 49 per cent in cases of illegal sexual acts and 61 per cent in cases of sexual harassment.

Experts say such numbers have a chilling effect on victims.

In Serbia, "penal policy has always been mild when it comes to crimes of violence against women," said Dijana Malbasa, a lawyer at the Autonomous Women's Centre, a Belgrade-based NGO with decades of experience in the field.

"The imposition of lenient sentences may affect the perception of the general public, but especially victims, that they will not receive fair satisfaction through court proceedings and that they will not influence the perpetrator not to repeat the crime."

Rape allegations against Serbian theatre figures

A guard in a prison in Serbia. Photo: Instagram/pravdars

Since the turn of the year, the Balkan country has been rocked by allegations of rape made against two of the biggest names in Serbian theatre, fuelling debate over how authorities deal with sex crimes.

In mid-January, well-known drama teacher Miroslav 'Mika' Aleksic was arrested after nine of his former students accused him of rape; at the end of March, US-based Serbian actress Danijela Stajnfeld alleged that popular actor and former culture minister Branislav Lecic had raped her in 2012.

Aleksic, who remains in...

Continue reading on: