UNICEF #TëBesoj campaign to stop Sexual Abuse of Children in Albania arrives at the city of Elbasan
Elbasan, 26 January 2021 -UNICEF Albania national campaign #TëBesoj has arrived to the city of Elbasan and will remain there for two weeks. The installation of around 50 children’s silhouettes, each bearing a real story of sexual abuse that happened to a child in Albania, is being displayed at the square in front of the “Arena” stadium.
“I was 11 years old when…
…I was sexually abused. Today, I am afraid of not being a virgin and of the issues I will have to face because of it. It took me 8 years to share this to someone… even to this day, I have not told anyone”.
“I was 12 years old...when a much older man sexually abused me, and ever since, I have been dealing with sexuality issues. It took me 12 years to finally talk about it to someone”.
These and many other stories of sexual abuse of children, told through the installation, aim to demonstrate that Sexual Abuse of Children is more widespread than one may imagine, that it is happening in the plain sight, and that it requires immediate and pro-active intervention.
The administrative data from the Albanian State police only confirm the most gruesome predictions of UNICEF - 60% of all sexual abuse cases in Albania are committed against children. In most cases the abuser is in the circle of trust of the child, while in one third of the cases the abuser is a family member (Medialook Report, 2019).
Moreover, UNICEF’s own research “One Click Away” on children’s experiences online, suggests that one in ten children reported at least one unwanted sexual experience through the internet, and were mostly initiated by someone the child already knew.
The #TeBesoj installation will remain at the square for 2 weeks and then will travel to other major cities of Albania.
The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation; foster a culture of speaking up about the phenomenon; encourage authorities to urgently prioritize policies and actions.
The launch of the #TeBesoj campaign start in Elbasan was joined by the Minister of Education of Albania Mrs. Evis Kushi and the Mayor of Elbasan Mr. Gledian Llatja.
“With this campaign we want to break the silence around sexual abuse and exploitation of children who need answers! If they were here today, they would need to start trusting us, they would need to see and feel that we are believing them”- said in his opening remarks Dr. Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
Minister Kushi said in during her speech that "We work hard every day to turn our schools into friendly environments that not only teach, but also provide support for all students. Schools play an important role in detecting, preventing, but also raising awareness against the phenomenon of child sexual abuse. At the same time, it is very important that all institutions cooperate with each other and school communities to get involved in such campaigns ".
" Violence and abuse against children is a serious, punishable act that affects society in its most sensitive part. Therefore, our mission is to guarantee the protection and respect of children's rights, to create every opportunity and condition for them to grow up safe and healthy. Together we can create the culture of maximum prevention and punishment of this phenomenon. The future of our country depends on them" said the Mayor of Elbasan Mr. Llatja in his opening remarks.
Elbasan became the 7th city in Albania after Tirana, Durrës, Shkodra, Berat, Korça and Lezha to host the #TëBesoj Campaign contributing to UNICEF’s commitment to put an end to this horrendous crime.
The collection of stories happened only within a few weeks’ time thanks to great support and collaboration of Nisma ARSIS, Foundation Together Albania and National Child Helpline Alo 116.
About the installation
#TëBesoj is a public installation, consisting of children’s silhouettes (boys and girls) each bearing a story of a real sexual abuse and exploitation that happened to a child in Albania. Behind each story, there is a real child, a real person, still suffering the consequences from the abuses that happened to them. The stories do not include children’s names or any other information that may lead to their identification.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/albania.