“He used to slap me, and I thought it was my mistake.”
These were the chilling words of a domestic violence survivor, shared with an audience at the Pjetër Bogdani Library during the launch event of 16 Day sOf Activism against Gender-Based Violence in Kosovo on Friday.
Renowned actors retold the words of domestic violence survivors from Kosovo, through a performance supported by UNMIK, in front of an audience of senior Kosovo institutional and international representatives.
The event highlighted the need for continued joint efforts to fight violence against women and girls, or, as the Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu described it “the cancer of our society”. “As we treat cancer, we must treat this too by looking at the causes and the root,” she said.
The launch of the 16 days was heavily darkened by the murder of a 62-year-old woman in Pristina that morning, which was unanimously condemned by all speakers. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani highlighted the importance of unity in this fight: “It is time to act united and bring an end to cultural attitudes that shame survivors and justify the authors of the crimes.”
Another harrowing testimony of a survivor illustrated the trap and dehumanizing impact of family violence. “I just couldn’t anymore. Enough. I lost myself. I didn’t recognize myself anymore.”
UNMIK is committed to the fight against gender-based violence. SRSG Ziadeh commends the efforts of women and men advocating for gender equality: “Societies can only thrive when all members are able to live free from violence.”