Providing mental health support for domestic violence abusers, tackling stigma faced by male domestic violence survivors and stopping the return of domestic violence survivors to their abusers' houses - these were some of the points of discussion during a round table of Kosovo's gender-based violence (GBV) experts hosted at UNMIK last week.
Numerous solutions were also tabled by the 20 gathered experts from across Kosovo's different communities, with one expert voicing concern that out of 80 domestic violence survivors in her municipality, 60 had returned to their abusers’ homes for a variety of reasons - including the inadequacy of shelters. The need to help women achieve financial independence was identified as primary.
"We need adequate and proper support for victims, but through permanent solutions. [Victims] need a safe and permanent space. We need to aim at breaking the circle of violence on a permanent basis and ensure survivors’ employment [and therefore] financial independence," she said.
Establishing rehabilitation programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence, rolling out early education prevention initiatives, and supporting domestic violence survivors to achieve economic independence were some of the proposed solutions discussed.
In addition, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK Caroline Ziadeh also proposed the formalisation of a coalition of GBV organisations to help drive change.
“We have heard such powerful experience and testimony from those working at the coalface of domestic and gender-based violence in Kosovo. UNMIK is committed to supporting the fight to stop domestic violence in all forms and to ensure gender equality. Domestic violence creates a chain that locks generations into a system of abuse and all groups must have the chance to reach their full potential.”