TABOO: Secrecy and Shame in the Balkans

Out now: The publication of the 2010 Balkan Fellows for Journalistic Excellence

Never before have societies appeared so ready to accept phenomena that our parents and grandparents would have kept hidden away as shameful and wrong. Be it sexual orientation, sex before marriage, a child outside of marriage, or deciding not to have children, it is now permissible in a world that endorses rather than rejects diversity in terms of lifestyle. But not all old taboos have fallen by the wayside everywhere, or at the same pace — this is what the fellows of the 2010 cycle have discovered.
In Southeast Europe, many traditional prohibitions retain all or much of their sway, allowing thought-provoking comparisons to be drawn between surviving attitudes there and in Western Europe. This year we invited reporters to explore topics related to ideas surrounded by prejudice, silence and shame. Taboo: Secrecy and Shame in the Balkans is the product of original research of eight journalists who were selected from Southeast Europe to participate in the 2010 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. These are their stories:

Serbian Church Accused of Sex Abuse Cover-up by Ivan Angelovski
Women Head East for Wombs to Rent by Doroteya Nicolova
Pill Addiction Grips the Balkans by Mila Popova
Kosovars Turn Blind Eye to Fake Foreign Marriages by Jeton Musliu
Freed Prisoners Remain Caught Behind Bars by Ruzica Fotinovska
Trapped in Black: Balkan War Widows by Majlinda Aliu (winning story)
Battered Wives Shunned in the Balkans by Georgiana Ilie
Cult of Virginity Fades Slowly in Albania by Ervin Qafmolla

Here you can download the publication: Taboo: Secrecy and Shame in the Balkans  (147 pages, PDF, 3.2 MB)
More information on the publication and on the winners is available at

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was initiated by Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN. The programme responds with financial and professional support to the growing need in the region to foster quality reporting, encourage networking amongst journalists and advance balanced coverage on complex issues that are central to the region as well as European Union. For more information please visit