21 May 2018

Women's shelters in Kosovo at the mercy of government whims

Kosovo shelters for victims of domestic violence face financial difficulties that could lead to their permanent closure if the government does not make a proper committment.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Women's shelters in Kosovo at the mercy of government whims - NewsMavens
Woman's Hand, Pixabay

Why this story matters:

According to Kosovo laws, it is the responsibility of the country to protect women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. But in practice, it doesn't look like authorities are aware of this. 

International organizations have been supporting local associations in establishing and running shelters for years. But it's time for the country to take over.

The permanent financial sustainability of shelters should not depend on the whims of the government -- it should be a priority. 

The instability of financial support to social services can make women feel unsafe and vulnerable, leading to decisions to return to their violent households. And that makes the rehabilitation of victims much more difficult. 

Details from the story:

  • In January this year, the majority of NGO-run shelters for women and children victims of domestic violence in Kosovo had to temporarily close down due to delays in financial support from the government during winter. 
  • The government allocated emergency funds to shelters in the meantime but no long-term financial commitment was given. Shelters are partially financed by local government, while the rest of the support comes from foreign donors. International donor organizations, however, expect full institutional commitment to protection of victims of domestic abuse. 
  • A new governmental grant program for social service providers requires grantees to secure at least 50% of the overall project budget from other sources. NGOs are worried the new condition might jeopardize the future of their shelters.
  • According to 2015 research by the Kosovo Women's Network, 68 percent of Kosovo women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. 
  • This year's analysis of institutional response to gender-based violence conducted by the same network titled "From Words to Action?" reported that insufficient confidentiality, victim-blaming and attempts at family reconciliation remain prevalent in Kosovo. There are legislative instruments for tackling domestic violence, but Kosovo institutions often fail to implement them. 
  • In March this year, an artist group put up three red billboards near Police headquarters in the capital city of Pristina, drawing attention to widespread domestic violence in Kosovo. 
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