Meet Aida- From a victim of violence to a strong promoter of women’s rights

Aida Musai, a silent hero of Albania awarded with a UN special prize for her contribution to end violence in society

Aida, 34, lives in a typical patriarchal family along with her husband, two children and mother-in-law. As soon as you step into her house, the eye catches the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini- a book with a set of rules written several decades earlier, whereby the woman is owned by the man and belongs only to him.

Aida and her family live in the suburbs of Durres, in Këneta, a former swamp area, in a neighbourhood where you can see constant smoke emitted by the burning waste of the entire city. But this is not the only trouble for Aida. Her story goes back many years when her husband would sit all day and night in front of gambling machines. Nothing would get him back by his family's side. For months, he could not even speak to or see his children as they were asleep when he arrived and left home. Every penny saved by his family got devoured by the slot machines, which did not pay back. Aida worked hard and would hide any pennies from her husband to provide food of her children. She lived with this situation for eight years. She felt violated, but she could not name her situation as a typical form of economic violence. She only recognised conventional and physical forms of violence.  

"One day I said enough is enough – Aida says. I decided to take actions and this time not only by discussing this issue with my husband. I pulled myself together and I said no one better than me can find a way out to this misery".  
This was a turning point for Aida and her family. She learned about “Albanian Community Centre” a non-governmental organization supported by UNDP which gives a helping hand to women victims of violence.

Aida is one among 100 women assisted. The NGO provides psychological counselling to women and their children and legal aid, it helps empower women with life and work skills, introduces them to the coordinated community response mechanism that handles gender based and domestic violence cases and helps women reintegrate in society and restart their lives.

"This organization provided great counselling and coaching to me. I came to understand that divorce was not a way out to the economic violence. I decided to confront the problem my husband was facing. But, surely it was not a walk in the park. It isn't yet. You must fight hard with a habit such as gambling. The NGO helped my husband find a job. As the days went by, with everyone’s support, my husband gained ground over gambling".
"Today  my husband and I have converted our sad story into an example of inspiration for many other women suffering from domestic violence. It sounds unbelievable but my husband has become a strong advocate of women’s rights. We participate in community meetings and appeal to women to report domestic violence and any other form of violence to the authorities and get help.
A recent UNDP survey found that more than 59 percent of women in the country experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetime.

UNDP with financial support from the Government of Sweden is working with the Government to improve policies, legislative framework, develop coordinated multi-disciplinary response and referral mechanisms, and implement public awareness campaigns on violence against women.

This includes support to establish Coordinated Community Response system (CCR) which manages cases of domestic violence in 37 of the country’s 61 municipalities. These mechanisms which act very fast involve local governments, law enforcement agencies, health care providers, judges and prosecutors, and specialized CSOs who come to the aid of domestic violence survivors. More than 2 700 cases of domestic violence were registered through a CCR tracking system from July 2014 till mid-2017.

Aida today is a success story. From a victim of violence, she is a role model to many women suffering violence who are anonymous to us, but are somebody's mother, daughter, wife or colleague…

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