Culture of shame slowly lifts for conflict-related sexual violence survivors in Kosovo

Training organised by UN Women is an important step forward to recognising Kosovo’s survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and bringing them reparations.

Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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Members of Government Commission to Recognize and Verify Survivors of Sexual Violence during the Kosovo War, attending the training related to CRSV. Photo: UN Women/Armenda Filipaj 

Still undergoing post-conflict transformation 18 years after hostilities ceased in 1999, Kosovo[1] faces many challenges in ending violence against women. A culture of shame and silence has stigmatized survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, who until recently had no legal recognition or rights and were unable to get reparations for the violence they suffered.

But things are beginning to change. On 29-31 August, UN Women and the Kosovo Institute for Public Administration began training in Pristina members of the Government Commission to Recognize and Verify Survivors of Sexual Violence During the Kosovo War about the Commission’s mandate, safe handling of information and best practices in identifying conflict-related sexual violence.

Set up in accordance with Kosovo’s obligations under international law to provide reparations to victims of conflict-related sexual violence, the Commission is mandated to provide reparations to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence after it has verified that their status as survivors.

The UN Women-organized training was an important step for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Kosovo.

“By providing reparations to survivors of sexual violence the Commission will deliver a long delayed and denied justice. Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence can no longer be overlooked in Kosovo,” says Priya Gopalan, gender and transitional justice expert who conducted the training for the Commissioners on behalf of UN Women.

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Minire Begaj Balaj (right), Chairperson of the Government Commission and Mire Prenaj (left), elected member of the Secretariat of the Commission. Photo: UN Women/Armenda Filipaj

Since 2006, working with civil society organizations and Kosovan authorities, UN Women has fought to get legal recognition and redress for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Kosovo.

After the Kosovo Assembly in March 2014 approved Law No. 04/L-172, which gave legal recognition to victims of sexual violence during Kosovo’s armed conflict, UN Women supported the establishment of the Government Commission to Recognize and Verify Survivors of Sexual Violence During the Kosovo War and developed training modules for commission members, NGOs and other participants. 

“Trainings are another important step forward for Kosovo and in the process to recognize and verify the status of the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence here,” explained Minire Begaj Balaj, Chairperson of the Government Commission. “Compulsory for everyone involved in the Commission, the trainings will help our future work and determine our approach to survivors of sexual violence. It is an important element.”

UN Women will continue the trainings with the Commission during September 2017.


[1] All references to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).