Defending the human rights of Roma women – Manjola’s story, Albania
Violence against women in Albania is common, with nearly 60 per cent of women aged 15-49 saying they have experienced domestic violence. When domestic violence occurs in a Roma household, police are often indifferent. Abused Roma women, particularly if they are poor, uneducated and unemployed, are unaware of their human rights and how to find shelters and access services.
A diverse people with their own language, culture, traditions and customs, Roma often suffer discrimination and exclusion in Albanian society.
Discriminated against even in their own communities, Roma women are often forced to marry at an early age, sometimes as young as 13 or 14 years old. Many drop out of school soon after, isolating them in their husband’s family.
In Albania, 50 per cent of marginalized Roma women, aged 20-49 years, reported to have been married before they were 18 years old.
Compelled to marry at an early age as a Roma woman herself, Manjola Veizi has been working for 10 years defending the human rights of Roma women in Albania.
Now Executive Director of the Center for the Rights of Roma Women, Veizi has created a network of Roma and Egyptian women activists that fight for women’s rights and against domestic violence in their communities. This work is supported by UN Women and the European Union through the Regional Programme on Ending Violence against Women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.
In this video, Veizi talks of her work to raise awareness in the Roma community on issues of domestic violence and early and forced marriages. She also informs Roma women of their rights and services available for survivors of domestic violence.