UNICEF #TëBesoj campaign to stop Sexual Abuse of Children in Albania is launched in the city of Gjirokastra
Gjirokastra, 18 March 2021 -UNICEF Albania national campaign #TëBesoj was launched the city of Gjirokastra. The installation of about 50 children’s silhouettes, each bearing a true story of sexual abuse that happened to a child in Albania, is displayed at the square in front of the main bazaar of the city and will stay there for two weeks.
“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 Gjirokastra was joined by the Mayor of Gjirokastra, Dr. Flamur Golemi.
“With this campaign we want to break the silence around sexual abuse and exploitation of children who need answers! All stories are real and all of them happened to children in Albania, and so we have only one clear message to all – Trust Us, Believe Us, and Help Us to End Violence”, said in his opening remarks Dr Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
The Mayor of Gjirokastra, Dr. Golemi while addressing the phenomenon said “Notably, the programme we are supporting today bears the message "I believe in you." All of the human stories published throughout must be heard and believed. They act as the awareness campaign because of the trauma and ramifications they bring, so that stories of violence and abuse against children are not repeated anymore”.
Gjirokastra joins in the list of the cities and becomes the 11th city in Albania after Tirana, Durrës, Shkodra, Berat, Korça, Lezha, Elbasan, Pogradec, Fier and Vlora to host the #TëBesoj Campaign, thus joining and contributing to UNICEF’s commitment to end this terrible 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.