UNICEF #TëBesoj campaign to stop Sexual Abuse of Children in Albania travels to the city of Lezha

14 January 2021
lezha_tebesoj
UNICEF/ALBANIA/2020

Lezha, 13 January 2021 -UNICEF Albania national campaign #TëBesoj has travelled to the city of Lezha and will stay 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 displayed at the square in front of the municipality in the city.

“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 Lezha was joined by Ambassador of Kingdom of Spain in Albania H.E. Mr. Marcos Alonso Alonso and the Mayor of Lezha Mr. Pjerin Ndreu. 

“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.

The Ambassador of Spain in Albania H.E. Mr. Alonso expressed in his remarks that “There is no excuse to sexual violence against children. And people who commit these crimes must be aware that society rejects them, despises them. We all have a role to play, at home, at school, at University, at work, with friends, in society “.

"All of us together with public institutions and local and international NGOs must join forces to prevent, support and integrate victims of violence and sexual exploitation." said the Mayor of Lezha Mr. Ndreu in his opening remarks.

Lezha became the sixth city in Albania after Tirana, Durrës, Shkodra, Berat and Korça 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.

Media contacts

Anila Miria
Communication Officer
UNICEF
Tel: +35569 20 29 021
Tel: +35569 20 24 185

About UNICEF

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.

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