On the 25thof November 2018, started the annual ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. It’s starting day is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days’ end on the 10th December, international Human Rights Day.
The initiative started in 1991 via collaboration between the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. Since then it has grown to encompass more than 3700 organisations from over 164 countries, all of which participate in the campaign annually.
The reason for this activism is very real- for far too long, silence, impunity, and social stigma have allowed gender-based violence to escalate to pandemic proportions with one in three women across the world, suffering violence just because they are female. This statistic should be sobering enough, but when we look at the statistics for Albania, an even more sobering picture begins to emerge.
Albania has a problem with domestic violence. I have spoken and written about the issue many times and the fact that I am regularly inundated with messages from (predominantly) men, telling me that violence isn’t an issue here and that feminism is a cancer, just shows how far we have to go.
A total of 106 Albanian women (that we know of) have been murdered in instances of gender-based violence during the last 18 years. A staggering 16 of these murders happened over the last 12 months. This paints a terrifying picture of a place that is progressing in so many ways, yet that continues to be an increasingly dangerous place to be a woman.
In the last year, not only have 16 women and girls lost their lives at the hands of their partners, ex partners, or family members, but a staggering 4000 court protection orders have been issued- that is almost 11 per day. This is shocking on its own, but then consider that the majority of victims never report the crimes committed against them, and we have a situation that should scare us all into trying to do something about it.
There are some 1,431,714 women and girls in Albania (according to INSTAT) and the UNDP along with several local NGOs have estimated that 53% of these women will suffer some form of domestic violence at one point in their lives. This violence can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and economic violence. Again, these figures could be much higher because many women do not denounce their assailants or even seek the help of an NGO.
CRCA Albania, a major organisation for the rights of children in the country said in a recent press release:
“Albania is turning into a battlefield for the rights of women and girls! On the one hand, we have an ever-growing society movement fighting to achieve equality between men and women, but on the other hand, traditional and cultural values that consider and treat daughters and wives as male properties produce violence and murders.”
They hold the government and municipalities responsible for the increasing numbers of domestic violence cases, stating that despite 28 years since the end of communism, the state has failed to put even basic measures to combat the issue, into force. Altin Hazizaj, Director of CRCA and one of the members of the National Council for Gender Equality in Albania said he believes that the root of the problem lies with providing better education, more support systems, conflict resolution measures, and more protection for those that are affected.
Reports show that victims of domestic violence face a lack of social services and an attitude of indifference of public institutions. Domestic or community services on preventing domestic violence are almost non-existent despite the fact that municipalities have a duty to offer them to everyone. The reality in Albania is that is falls on the shoulders of NGOs to provide support, counselling, legal advice, medical care, social and personal assistance and more. Whilst the municipalities fail their constituents, the culture of violence prevails in our society and children learn from a young age that problems are to be solved with violence, and the cycle of abuse continues.
We have a situation where the Mayor of Tirana speaks about a female police officer as if she is a commodity, we have children being beaten in kindergartens and their assailants walking free because of political connections, we have the systematic silencing of women that seek justice, their dismissal by the police force, widespread online harassment, and the failure of the justice system to adequately bring abusers to justice.
As a result, wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and friends are suffering in silence at the hands of the ones that are supposed to love them. This is not acceptable. Domestic violence is a problem in this country and more needs to be done to address it.
In memory of the 16 women and girls murdered in Albania during 2018-11-28
January 20th2018- A.M a 22-year-old student was killed at the Faculty of Medicine in Tirana
January 21st2018- S.H a 73-year-old woman was killed in her home in Vlore
April 5th2018- Z.T a mother of six children was killed in her home.
April 27th2018- S.SH a 58-year-old was killed at her home in Shkodra.
May 27th2018- E.T a 58-year-old was killed at her head after suffering multiple violent blows.
May 30th2018- FN was murdered in her car in front of the eyes of her child.
June 7th2018-Z.S, a 50-year-old woman was killed in her home in Pehskopi.
June 8th2018- A.SH a 40-year-old woman and a mother of six was killed at her home.
June 9th2018- XH.C an 18-year-old woman was killed on her way to school in Tirana.
June 10th2018- A.M, a 20 year od woman was murdered and her body was thrown in the street.
July 4th2018- S.L, a 61-year-old woman was killed in her apartment in Elbasan.
July 15th 2018- SN, a 25-year-old girl was killed in Shkodra in front of her 1-year-old child.
August 10th 2018- P.Z. a 78-year-old, V.Z. a 40-year-old, S.Z. a 15-year-old and A.Z.
a 47-year-old were killed at their home in Vlora.
Statistics from Interstat, UNDP, UN Women, CRCA.Follow The Balkanista!