More women press legal charges as domestic violence increases in Albania
Sevim Arbana with OneWorldSEE – WNN Breaking
(WNN) ALBANIA: A rise in the occurrence of domestic violence in Albania also shows a positive increase in womens’ awareness of options to overcome family violence in their home as more women victims press charges against their assailants, says new statistics from the Albanian Ministry of Labour.
Domestic violence today is a serious problem in Albanian society. With growing numbers of reported cases and victims, most girls and women who suffer from violence at home belong to those who are more disadvantaged. Many also have lower standards of education and come from the rural areas of Albania. Domestic violence though is not exclusively confined to these groups alone and can be found everywhere across the Albanian region.
The latest data release from Albania’s Ministry of Labour shows that 1,998 cases of domestic violence were registered in 2010, an increase from the 1,217 2009 reported cases. 2010 also saw a large increase in court cases as 1,230 requests were made to the local courts for “Immediate protection/restrictive orders,”compared to only 841 requests the year before.
A recurrent factor is revealed in most reported cases: One member of the family usually wants to exercise their absolute power over the others, as in a husband’s behavior toward his wife. The violence also include a parent’s behavior toward their children.
Helping women to speak out
The “Don’t keep quiet” campaign used a slogan to invite the public to discuss the phenomenon of domestic violence openly. Since then other initiatives have followed, although they have had more charted success and impact in urban areas. In rural areas, especially in the north of Albania, domestic violence often remains strictly hidden within the family walls and considered ‘a private matter.’
In 2006 a new law was passed in Albania’s parliament following strong pressures placed by Albanian citizens with a petition asking for greater protective measures signed by 20,000 people nationwide.
The law covers two important aspects. It defines which public institutions are competent in dealing with domestic violence. Next it grants local magistrates the power to put “protective and restrictive measures” into immediate action in favor of the victims and against the violators.
“The law states that the violator is the one who is obliged to leave the house when an ‘order of protection’ is issued; although this is unfortunately not [usually] the case as the violator and victim continues to share the same space and the violence continues,” said Sevim Arbama from the association ‘Useful to Albanian Women.’
Protective laws which are not applied
Law enforcement is hitting some hurdles, however, that exist to help local women who are suffering from domestic violence. A shortage of police and court enforcement budgets show that action is often not sufficient enough to put the new law into practice.
“It is a matter of fact that since the beginning of 2011 there have been more cases of women killed yet no guilty person in prison. This clearly shows that the law is not working,” outlines Arbama. “The system and network of help finds obstacles in its way when trying to apply the law, plus there are no shelters for victims where they can start to rebuild their lives.”
Although statistics show a rise in increased violence against women, this could also be seen as not completely negative. Data is pointing to indicators that more people are finally starting to report cases and the problem is at last coming out into the open. However, we still can not call a rise in this kind of data reassuring.
Family violence comes in different forms: the emotional kind, the economical kind (particularly in urban areas), the physical kind (particularly in rural areas) and the sexual kind which is the most hidden form. Age groups which suffer the most violence are girls and women between the ages of 18 and 23 years and 37 and 45 years. The most vulnerable of all the victims are those with disabilities, migrants, Roma minorities and women who are originally from rural areas.
Improving state sponsored programs
Regarding assistance for the victims, help arriving from the state’s institutions is so minimal that it is safe to say it is practically non-existent. Despite the 2006 law there are enormous difficulties in fully guaranteeing protection for the victims. State institutions that offer assistance and shelter to women from violence in Albania are still missing despite a rise in awareness. Vocational and career training to help rural women gain greater equality, along with more dignity and rights through professional work, are also at a minimum.
Despite these difficult situations for many women, who are often left as the only ‘head-of-household’ after they leave a husband due to violence, numerous local Albanian communities hope that in the near future they are able to collaborate more effectively with state institutions in order to confront the problem of domestic violence together. Local communities particularly hope for improved cooperation with police departments who are key to helping women and minors during critical moments in the fight against domestic violence.
©2011 WNN – Women News Network
No part of this article release may be reproduced without prior permissions from WNN. We would like to thank the President of “Useful to Albanian Women” Sevim Arbana for her help with this article. Article written by more than one author in collaboration via Oneworld SEE.
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