Coordinated response against domestic violence bears results for survivors

parliament
Parliament of the Republic of Albania

Edlira Qazimi is a divorced mother of two that for the first time in her life, at the age of forty, has started working full-time in the south-eastern Albanian city of Korça.

Edlira and her two sons (19 and 12 years old) went through almost 20 years of a tormented life marred by violence and anxiety. Her husband’s alcohol abuse coupled with circumstances of a tough economic survival made the family life impossible.

She heard about the Community Coordinated Response System led by the Municipality of Korça where she turned for help. With the assistance of the Domestic Violence Coordinator at the Municipality and of Korça Police Department, Edlira requested a protection order and filed for divorce. She was temporarily sheltered at a community centre and gradually was employed there as an assistant to the elderly, which allows her to afford an apartment for herself and the younger son she lives with.

Highlights

  • 2008: Albania passed the new Law on Gender Equality in Society
  • 2012: Domestic Violence is recognized as a criminal offense
  • 3,500 Albanian professionals have been trained on legal issues pertaining to gender equality, domestic violence and discrimination issues
  • 204 cases of domestic violence reported nationally in 2006 when the Law was passed. The number was about 10 times higher in 2011
  • 1st national shelter for survivors of domestic violence is operational

“This feels like being born again. Breaking free from abuse is something very basic, yet quite difficult to explain in simple words”-says Edlira.

Korça is one of the Albanian municipalities applying the Community Coordinated Response (CCR) against domestic violence, which entails a system of referral with a multi-disciplinary case management, unified data collection on domestic violence and a close cooperation between public entities such as the municipality, the police, the court, health and education authorities and NGOs.

The CCR system has been established through the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the UN Joint Programme on Gender Equality and against Domestic Violence in three pilot municipalities in Albania – Korça being one of them – and is assisting domestic violence survivors to receive a comprehensive solution to their cases. Last year, the Government replicated these models throughout the country.

“Since the  system was established here in Korça, we have received around 180 cases of domestic violence, with more than two thirds of the cases being handled through the CCR model”-says Ms. Elizeta Vando, Domestic Violence and Gender Equality Coordinator at the Municipality of Korça.

According to a recent national sample survey on gender-based violence, carried out by the National Statistics Agency and supported by the UN, 51% of the women surveyed admit they have suffered emotional abuse in their lives, 39% have suffered psychological abuse, 31% physical abuse and 13% have suffered sexual abuse.

In 2008, Albania passed a new Law on Gender Equality in Society which is in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) standards and the EU acquis communautaire. For the first time a 30% quota of representation for women in public bodies was also introduced and the establishment of the gender machinery in Albania was initiated through the development of the pertinent secondary legislation. In 2010, the national legislation was further completed with the approval of the Law on Protection from Discrimination. With UNDP support, the legal response towards domestic violence was also strengthened through further improvements to the Domestic Violence Law in 2010 and with inclusion of domestic violence and stalking and specific offences in the Criminal Code.

 “I believe that the change can start from here. Look at the difference we all made at Edlira’s life, and she is not the only one,” says Ms. Voltisa Furxhi, Coordinator at the Kennedy Foundation. Ms. Furxhi further explains that the Foundation is working to establish a wider residential centre for women and girls survivors of domestic violence.

This programme implemented by UNDP and other supports public oversight bodies in implementing appropriate policies with regard to human rights, gender equality and against gender-based and domestic violence. The Programme reaches out to the Albanian citizens at large in order to increase the public demand for human rights, gender equality and access to justice.