About the Book

Openness is a defining characteristic of the modern Western world - openness to change and to seeing people and things in a new and different light. Never before have societies appeared so ready to accept phenomena that our parents and grandparents would have kept hidden away as shameful and wrong


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Whether it is having a different 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, as this year’s fellows 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 selected from South East Europe to participate in 2010 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, 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.


Edited by Marcus Tanner

Sarajevo, 2010.

Editorial Team: Marcus Tanner, Gordana Igric, Anita Rice, Ana Petruseva, Albena Shkodrova, Besar Likmeta, Marian Chiriac, Jeta Xharra.

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence

An initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Published in 2010 by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network, Kosevo 14, 71000 Sarajevo , Bosnia and  Herzegovina.

Designed by Milomir Orlovic.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright holder and the publisher, application for which shall be made to the publisher.

© Robert Bosch Stiftung, ERSTE Foundation and Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network 2010

This publication is not for commercial use.


Topic 2010: Taboo

Taboos change – rapidly. Homosexuality was once a taboo in Western Europe, as was “living in sin”, [i.e. outside marriage], abortion, childlessness, physical disabilities, atheism and suicide


07 Oct 2010 / 12:33

It was good to talk

Marcus Tanner
06 Oct 2010 / 10:20

Strange Times in Skopje

Jeton Musliu
01 Sep 2010 / 11:20

Completing the B Ring

Mircea Dan Opris
23 Aug 2010 / 13:35

Ten Intros later...

Jeton Musliu
16 Aug 2010 / 16:23

My last stop

Georgiana Ilie
13 Aug 2010 / 10:09

The hardest thing in my research

Majlinda Aliu
02 Aug 2010 / 10:20

Two months of silence, so much info

Mircea Dan Opris
27 Jul 2010 / 14:54

Now is the time to write

Jeton Musliu
16 Jul 2010 / 11:13

Heat Follows Me Everywhere, Even to London

Mila Popova