Serbian minister under fire over birth rate statement

N1 (arhiva)

Serbia’s Family Care Minister Ratko Dmitrovic came under fire on Thursday over a statement that critics said is misogynist.

Dmitrovic told TV Prva on Wednesday that “in 90 percent of cases, the role of the woman is decisive in the fight against negative population growth”. He said that women now have complete freedom to be whatever they want in any field. “What should we men and society, the state give her to make her decide to have a third child,” he said and added that changes to the way of life brought this problem-. “Hedonism prevailed,” he said.

His words came under fire first from fellow cabinet Minister and Chair of the government Coordination Body for Gender Equality Zorana Mihajlovic who did not mention Dmitrovic by name but said that “laying the blame on women for the birth rate issue is inappropriate”. “Raising birth rates is a process that we all have to take part in. A society in which women are educated and emancipated is not the cause of low birth rates,” she said in a press release.

Activists of motherhood organizations were not so forgiving. Tatjana Macura of the Mothers Rule (Mame su Zakon) Initiative and Jovana Ruzicic of the Center for Mothers told the N1 morning show that Dmitrovic’s statements were highly offensive.

“Minister Dmitrovic’s statement is an insult to say the least. It shows that the minister lacks basic knowledge, that he does not know the law which says that fixed amounts are given to families with a third child over a 10 year period which sounds nice but does not take into account the fact that other child support payments are taken away,” Macura said.

Ruzicic called the minister’s words “exceptionally offensive”. “It’s no all right for a decision maker to be thinking in that way or communicating with the public in that way… His statement is misogynist and I think it’s unacceptable for him to be bargaining over children and mothers. Children are not bought,” she said.

Dmitrovic tried to defend himself in Thursday’s press release which denied that he every blamed women for the bad demographics in Serbia. “On the contrary, I said that the woman is at the center of this story, our absolute priority, that she decides to give birth and we should all help her,” he said.