In recent weeks in Kosovo there have been various demonstrations against violence against girls and women, after an 11-year-old girl was raped several times by a group of men and boys in Pristina, the country’s capital, on 27 August. The protests were not only directed against the social and cultural context linked to this crime, but also against the Kosovar institutions, especially after it was discovered that the same child, a victim of human trafficking, she had already been raped by several men last June 21, also in this case several times, and no one had been arrested at the time.
Two men and three underage boys were charged for the August rapes. According to the reconstruction of the investigators, two of them initially approached and then raped the girl in a park in the Arberia district; the others would then get her into a car while the girl was near her house and rape her again in another location.
After the first newspaper articles relating the rapes in June to those in August, carried out in a series of motels around Pristina, six men suspected in that case were also arrested. They will be detained for 30 days, as will the five arrested on August 27, pending further court decisions.
The Kosovan Center for Gender Studies (QKSGj)one of the leading feminist organizations in Kosovo, accused the state of being complicit in the latest violence on the child because in theory since last June she should have been under the protection of social services.
According to the QKSGj, “this is not as an isolated incident, but as a continuous state behavior towards girls and women who suffer gender violence.” And the problem would particularly affect girls and girls because, according to data from the Kosovo Forensic Medicine Institute, 85 percent of the victims of sexual violence between 2019 and 2021 were minors.
Prishtina Insightan English-language news site of the investigative journalism NGO BIRN Kosovo, He says that according to the documents of the investigation, the identification and arrest of the accused for the June rape were possible thanks to the analysis of the phone of the raped girl: “It took more than two months to do it.” Police told BIRN that an internal investigation into the behavior of the officers who handled the two cases was launched. Already after the first protests, on August 31, Kosovo police chief Samedin Mehmeti resigned, “for reasons of personal and professional conscience,” said Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla.
Thousands of people participated in the first and second protest march, on 30 and 31 August, and hundreds in the third, organized on 5 September by a number of local feminist activist groups, including the Collective for feminist thought and action and the QKSGj. Kosovar feminists are making various demands for the government and other institutions of the country. First of all, the dismissal of police officers negligent regarding the June rapes and that of the chief prosecutor of Pristina, Kujtim Munishi, as well as an investigation into the work of the social welfare services.
Edhe sot vazhduam protestën tonë dhe zaptuam dyert and Këshillit Prokurorial. Të revoltuara nga papërgjegjësia institucionale që po bëhet mbi trupin and grave, ne kërkuam llogari and hapa konkretë nga Qeveria dhe KPK. pic.twitter.com/aKSJRoaRFk
– Kolektivi për Mendim dhe Veprim Feminist (@KMVFeminist) September 5, 2022
They also ask for the creation of a specialized police unit for the management of cases of sexual violence and a support program for victims of violence, including free forms of psychological therapy; the legalization of the use of irritating sprays for self-defense; the introduction of sex education courses in schools and prisons.
According to a report by Eulex, the European Union mission in Kosovo on the rule of law, 107 cases of sexual violence were reported in the country, which has around 1.9 million inhabitants, in 2021. In 2020 there were 64, in 2019 57: these data suggest that the propensity to report violence has increased, an aspect on which many groups in defense of women’s rights are working. However, given that women who report are often stigmatized in social contexts, and are often not believed by the police, it is thought that there are still many who do not come forward.
According to Kosovan feminists, there is also a problem in the way rape cases are handled by the courts. “They impose minimum penalties, from a few years in prison, or only fines”, he told the German newspaper Der Standard Viona Krasniqi, from the Kosovo Women’s Network (RrGK): “Extenuating circumstances are invoked in most cases, while aggravating ones are ignored.” According to an analysis by BIRN, between 2015 and 2020 the courts of Kosovo dealt with 521 cases of sexual violence: the sentences that led to an incarceration were 140; in 79 cases the trials ended with a fine or acquittal. For another 189 cases, no prescription was made.
In addition to the demonstrations in Pristina, there were others, in solidarity with Kosovar women in other cities of the Balkans: in Tirana, Albania, and Skopje, North Macedonia.
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Protests over the rape of a child in Kosovo – Il Post
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