A ‘young’ country on the move

Country Programme 2006-2010

The new UNICEF representative in Albania

Related information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child


Mr Palm's speech during the Conference on “Violence is Crime! Act Now! A real men never hurts a Woman” organised with the support of UNDP and UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women on 10 December 2012

As I was preparing for my speech, I looked at the list of speakers before me and after me, and I asked myself: What can I add? I was sure that all the right things would have been said. That all speakers - in fact everyone in this room - would agree that domestic violence must be stopped, that domestic violence is a crime, that everyone must work together to put an end to this disgraceful but still widespread practice. Violence by men against women should not become part of Albania's folklore.

But then I was wondering. If all of us agree, why has - relatively speaking - so little changed over the past decade or so? Here are the leaders of the country, the elite, the opinion makers, the foremost thinkers and civil servants, the diplomats, prominent representatives of civil society, and we all agree but still - change is so slow.

Does nobody listen? Are we the cognoscenti, talking only to ourselves? Is violence by men against women important today - but perhaps not tomorrow? Of course, it takes time to change behaviour. It's difficult to change our own behaviour, and the behaviour of many people, and especially the behaviour of men who beat their spouses - because these are the men that are not likely to listen to speeches. As Zineb said, it is the society that lets violence happen, and it is the society that need to change.

For behaviour to change among those that are the most difficult to reach, we need a movement. A movement where everyone participates. A movement where all men participate.

Let's be clear. A man who beats his wife, or a boy who beats his girlfriend, is not likely to listen to a woman or a girl to stop using violence. Nor is he likely to listen to the outcome of a conference. He must be talked to by men, his neighbours, his colleagues at work. The police - the policemen - need to take him into custody. The judges - most of them men - need to sentence him, and restrain him.

But here - I am sorry to say - I suspect an ongoing conspiracy of men. Let me explain. Men think that other men have a good reason to beat their wives. They think it is a domestic affair not requiring their involvement. Perhaps some men are afraid to talk to another man - a violent man - because they may get a beating, too. Many young boys in school will not try to intervene when their "friend" lashes out at his girlfriend, because they do not want to appear as wimps. While the man who beats his wife will still be welcome at the village bar, the policeman who tries to arrest him may be the odd one out. Silence is what I mean with the conspiracy of men.

So we have to make it very clear, that every men who does not intervene, who does not speak out, the policeman who does not do his job, the mayor or chief who does not take a strong position against violence, will be an accomplice to the crime. This message must go through all the entire civil service, the schools, youth organizations, health system, law enforcement, jurisprudence, parliamentarians, until we have put an end to this complicity.

Domestic violence is not an issue between one man and one woman. It is an issue for all of us. Violence is perpetrated by men and boys, and must be stopped by men and boys. And if men and boys want to show courage, strength and leadership, they can start right here.



 Email this article

unite for children