How prevalent is domestic violence in Albania?
At least 8 per cent of Albanian women have suffered physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner, according to a nationwide survey conducted in 2003. Another 25 per cent have suffered psychological abuse. Statistics on sensitive topics like domestic violence must be interpreted cautiously. Still, anecdotal evidence suggests that violence against women in the home has increased during Albania’s transition.
Why? This rural and rugged country has a long history of patriarchy, but it was suppressed during the 45-year Communist regime. The collapse of the regime and its controlling institutions in 1991 left a vacuum often filled by traditional beliefs and behaviors. And families have faced enormous stresses during the transition period. The demise of state jobs led to poverty, widespread migration and the breakdown of family and community bonds. In many cases the resulting frustrations have led to violence against women.
Any form of ‘smacking’ a woman is a violation of her human rights. In many cases it leaves the woman with psychological as well as physical injuries, harming her ability to live a full life. And children learn what they see – children who witness or experience violence at home often grow up inflicting it on their partners and children, perpetuating a cycle of violence that goes on for generations.
UNICEF works with civil society and government to stop violence in all its forms. We currently are assisting several NGOs in an advocacy campaign to spread messages against domestic violence and for respect for women. We have supported a variety of services for abused women and their children, as well as the publication of university textbooks on gender roles and domestic violence. And we worked with a team to develop a secondary school ‘life skills’ manual that, among other things, teaches non-violent means of conflict resolution.
November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women