Osnat Lubrani: Violence in Kosovo
UNKT Joint Programme on Domestic Violence in Kosovo
Launching Ceremony, 27 September 2011
Honourable Mr. Kuci,
Representative of Finland, Ms. Meskanen; government representatives, friends from civil society, the media, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us at this launch of a joint UNKT programme to address domestic violence in Kosovo. Our very special thanks go to the Government of Finland, who alongside government and civil society, were our partners in developing this programme, and are financially supporting our efforts.
Why is this programme needed?
I must sadly repeat what likely all of you already know: violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread violations of human rights worldwide, cutting across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, the workplace, in rural and urban settings; it often surges during and after conflicts as well as under pressures of poverty and economic instability. Violence against women and girls is a human rights issue; but is also a development issue. It hampers productivity, reduces human capital and undermines economic growth.
Between 2002 and 2009 Kosovo Police registered 9,772 cases of domestic violence –that is over 1,000 cases per year. In over half these cases, violence in the home was also associated with violence against children. The numbers testify to existence of the phenomenon, but do not tell us how widespread the problem actually is – because - like in other parts of the world, gender based violence is vastly underreported in Kosovo. The report produced in 2008 by the Kosovo Women’s Network “Safety begins at Home” found that a majority of victims are either afraid or ashamed to denounce their abusers; the report also revealed disturbing attitudes in the society – that many women think it is acceptable to be beaten, or more generally, that in Kosovo society, the problem is perceived as a ‘private matter’.
I’m sure you are aware that over the years, UN Agencies in Kosovo supported different initiatives to address violence working in close partnership with our partners in government and civil society, whether these were focused on raising awareness, direct support for victims through shelters or legal aid; also - strengthening of capacities of judges, prosecutors, juvenile justice professionals, police, social workers, and probations officers, also working with health workers. More recently we were privileged to assist with the development of a new strong law on domestic violence, accompanied by a national strategy and action plan, thereby ensuring that Kosovo is fully compliant with international legal instruments, which oblige States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women & girls. Throughout our work, we have relied on strong partnership with government, but also – in particular, our partners in civil society, women’s NGOs who carry the deepest knowledge and expertise; and who represent the voices and needs of the beneficiaries.
What is exciting about this programme?
This programme is the first new one to be launched under our five-year plan. Under this plan we want to focus on making implementation of existing laws and strategies real and meaningful for the citizens of Kosovo. In this case, we see this programme as giving a tangible push to implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan to address DV. This is not easy – it requires political will, it requires resources, it requires stronger accountability to monitor and evaluate progress achieved. It also requires greater focus. Under this new programme, we will also be moving forward the second area of focus of the UN plan, which is to make municipalities more inclusive; ensuring delivery of services and support to those who need our attention the most, who are often invisible and marginalized – in this case - women and girls who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing domestic violence.
This is why we decided to focus on a comprehensive and inclusive approach to address the problem in three pilot municipalities Gjilan/ Gnjilane, Dragash/Dragas and Gjakovë/Djakovica. To achieve this, we will work with relevant stakeholders at both central and local level. A key element of the program will be to strengthen women’s autonomy and economic independence both as survivors and potential survivors of domestic violence to enhance their economic status and reduce the risks of becoming survivors of gender-based violence. We will also seek to pilot innovative approaches by mobilizing youth and men as partners in ending domestic violence, advocating for changing gender and cultural norms and practice that sustain domestic violence.
An exciting aspect of this programme is that we are bringing together the strong expertise of several UN agencies to achieve greater impact. Rather than working each on its own, we will join forces: UNWOMEN, bringing its leadership on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, UNFPA, which has done a lot of work on addressing VAW in Kosovo through the lens of women’s reproductive health and rights; UNICEF – who will ensure that our focus is strongly placed on sensitizing and mobilizing youth; OHCHR – which will help us link our work to Kosovo’s overall agenda to advance full realization of human rights; and last – but not least – UNDP which will bring its expertise in mainstreaming gender and capacity development for municipalities in context of decentralization; its work to advance rule of law and access to justice especially the legal aid services and its work on VAW in Kosovo, including through community safety, but also addressing the issue of trafficking in women.
Let me close by saying that we mustn’t forget that behind every statistic there is a heart wrenching tragedy of suffering Over the past 6 years (2005-2011) 22 women were murdered by their partners. We all recall a recent death of Igballe Llalloshi, a doctor, and Diana Kastrati, who lost their lives violently at the hand of their partners. For these two women our efforts come too late (although we they - in the least – these two innocent women deserve justice and their perpetrators must be punished).
In tribute to their memory, we must increase our efforts to ensure that no more innocent lives are squandered. For Kosovo to prosper in line with its European aspirations - women, who make half (if not more) of the population, cannot be left behind. They must be protected from violence, and their rights must be fully realized including equal opportunity in education, healthcare, employment, and political participation.