Women and girls speak out against domestic violence
Maria and her children are the new comers in the sole state-run National Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims in Tirana which houses around 40 survivals. Maria escaped her abusive home and violent husband after 10 years of marriage. Her children 6 and 8 are still traumatized by the endless scenes of terror and violence they have witnessed throughout the years.
- More than half of Albanian women have experienced at least one form of domestic violence in their lifetime.
- The CCR provide services to domestic violence survivors in 27 municipalities across the country.
- Around 300 women and children have been accommodated and supported at the shelter in 5 years.
- In 2015, 47 percent of gender-based and domestic violence survivors found employment.
“I said to myself: Enough is enough. I have given my husband many opportunities to stop violence and behave like a real man who does not hurt his wife and takes responsibility for his children. Instead, he would spend all our money to get drunk and beat me almost every day. I have experienced continuous violence and humiliation".
One day Maria learned through the local media about the existence of the Community Coordinated Response for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic violence cases in her hometown. It took her months to decide to report the case to the local police station and ask for their help.
The Police immediately started the procedure. They filed the case with the district court so that Maria would be granted an Immediate Protection Order. After the immediate Protection Order, she was taken to the National Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims where she was supported by the phycologist and the lawyer employed by the shelter.
A number of services are offered to the domestic violence victims and their children such as medical, counselling, legal services, vocational training, and support to increase their opportunities to find a job and compete with their skills in the labor market.
The Deputy Minister of Interior Elona Gjebrea says: “The Community Coordinated Response (CCR) is a mechanism that functions at the municipal level. It is composed of local government and non-governmental bodies such as local police, municipality, local health institutions, district prosecution and court, bailiff offices, local employment and education departments, civil society organizations specialized in providing services to domestic violence survivors. The system established with the assistance of UNDP and supported by other UN Agencies in Albania, has proved instrumental in providing multidisciplinary services to domestic violence survivors in 27 municipalities across the country, State Police statistics show that in 2015 compared to 2013, there is an increase of 30% of reported cases as well as 35% increase of requests for State Police to issue Protection Orders for DV survivors. In 2015 compared to 2014 there is a 24% increase of arrested perpetrators for family crimes. This indeed is a clear indication of the increased public trust and more specifically of the domestic violence survivors in state institutions for a coordinated response to cases”.
The National Shelter for Domestic Violence Survivors and the CCR system are established with UNDP suport and are assisting domestic violence survivors to receive comprehensive solutions to their cases. The programme is funded by the Government of Sweden.
“Since the establishment of the Shelter five years ago, around 300 women and children have been accommodated and supported to leave violent surroundings, rehabilitate and start again with their normal lives. Through rehabilitation and reintegration programs in 2015, 47% of gender based and domestic violence victims are successfully employed compared to 38% in 2014” – said Ms. Etleva Bisha, Head of the Social Sate Services.
“I found a safe haven in the shelter. After so many years of torture and violence, I feel I can breathe. I call on very woman and girl to report domestic violence and not keep it in close doors. It is not a shame. I can take better care of my children as I now have the peace of mind to give them the needed support. I heard that the shelter is offering a free of charge vocational training on cooking and I intend to attend. Maybe I can find work at the numerous restaurants in Tirana. The shelter staff has promised to help me in my job search through their networks”-said Maria.
Gender based violence and domestic violence is a challenge for the Albanian society according to the official statistics. National prevalence population-based survey, conducted in 2007 and 2013 and continuous administrative records of reported and convicted cases reveal that the prevalence is high and increasing.
Gender based violence prevalence has increased from 56% in 2007 to 59.4% in 2013. More than half of Albanian women (aged 15-49) have experienced at least one form of domestic violence in their lifetime. To handle domestic violence cases there was also a need to promote collaboration among different institutions responsible for addressing gender based and domestic violence.
With the support of UNDP in 2011 a decree to mandate interdisciplinary and interagency coordination and referral of domestic violence cases in every local government unit was passed by the Council of Ministers. Following this decision, with UNDP support, in 2014 an online system to track multidisciplinary response to domestic violence was installed at both central and local level. This system is used in 27 municipalities in the country:
That women like Maria can voice and name abuse, indicates a transformational shift. Women and girls are breaking the silos and are speaking out. Change is on its way for Maria and not only.