Take Five: “Cooperation between the government and civil society is essential for addressing violence against women”

Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The EUUN Women regional programme, ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,’ which aims to end violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, is being implemented in Kosovo.[1] Dhurata Hoxha Sadiku, Minister of Justice, talks about the relevance of this initiative and how the Government of Kosovo is planning to address the issue of gender-based violence.

Dhurata Hoxha Sadiku, Minister of Justice of Kosovo. Photo: Courtesy of Dhurata Hoxha Sadiku
Dhurata Hoxha Sadiku, Minister of Justice of Kosovo. Photo: Courtesy of Dhurata Hoxha Sadiku

As Minister of Justice you have participated in a number of initiatives for women’s empowerment in Kosovo. What has been the focus of your mandate with regards to women’s rights?

As Minister of Justice, but also more importantly as a woman and a mother, I have made numerous attempts at developing a more inclusive legislative environment in Kosovo, acceptable to all and in accordance with international standards.

As Minister of Justice I was responsible for the drafting and implementation of the National Strategy for Property Rights – with a particular focus on the barriers that women in Kosovo face in securing property rights.

As part of my mandate, the Ministry promoted the Law for Compensation of Victims of Crime; thanks to these efforts, survivors can now file claims for compensation. The provisions of the Law also regulate domestic violence issues. Based on a proposal from the Ministry of Justice, the Government appointed a Commission for Compensating Victims of Crime, which is now in charge of preparing drafts for administrative instructions. This is an important contribution to the ‘war’ on domestic violence.

Even though Kosovo has not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention, institutions are working nonetheless working to implement its commitments. The Government welcomes and will continue to support these initiatives, especially projects that aim to improve services for victims of violence – such as protection and reintegration services.

Last year, the Government of Kosovo launched the National Strategy on Protection from Domestic Violence and the subsequent Action Plan. What steps is the Ministry of Justice taking to better implement this strategy?

The legislation of the Republic of Kosovo is always compatible with European standards, as is the National Strategy for Protection against Domestic Violence. This Strategy was drafted in accordance with national legislation, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women (the Istanbul Convention).

 The vision of the National Strategy is: “A society that ensures all of its citizens, adults or children, can live without fear or threat of domestic violence, that protects victims, brings the perpetrators to justice and reduces tolerance towards violent acts.” We are therefore looking at ways to strengthen the implementation of the strategy.

Actions derived from the strategy involve different sectors, and its implementation falls under the authority of different ministries and agencies. The Ministry of Justice is committed to assisting institutions in Kosovo to implement the strategy.

The National Coordinator’s Office has formed an inter-ministerial group, responsible for coordinating all activities, to ensure that the strategy and its implementation are in accordance with the Istanbul Convention, national legislation and CEDAW.

What is the Ministry of Justice doing on awareness-raising, protection and reintegration for survivors of violence against women?

One of the main activities in this area involves improving services for survivors of violence, as well as establishing a database, which is being developed with the help of UN Women. This database will be used for tracking cases of violence and compiling a register of services provided by key actors, such as the police, the judiciary and other relevant institutions that are part of the process.

How can the Government of Kosovo improve cooperation with civil society organizations to address violence against women?

The Government, together with the state police and the prosecution offices, should be careful when it comes to receiving and reporting cases of violence against women. Confidentiality is crucial in these cases, so that women feel safe when contacting state institutions and, most importantly, do not fear being pressurized in any way by the communities in which they live.

Civil society organizations should focus on projects that deal with the reintegration of these women, helping them to overcome the abuse they have suffered and empowering them to stand up against violence. The harmonization of initiatives and projects between state institutions and NGOs is essential to combat violence against women.

From your experience working as a professor, do you think the youth of Kosovo are conscious that violence against women is still prevalent in our society? Do you think they consider these topics as taboo, as many of the older generation do?

As a society, we continue to consider some topics as taboo, especially those that relate to family relations. Even though there are young people who still have patriarchal views on women’s rights and their position in the family, this is gradually changing and the youth in Kosovo are taking part in various initiatives towards gender equality.

Our youngsters should be concerned about violence against women and should work towards a more equal society. Reporting is crucial in these cases and youngsters should be made aware that if they witness violence they should report it immediately to the relevant institutions. Our youth also need to be educated about relationships between men and women – and how these should be built on mutual understanding and healthy communication.

[1] This and all other references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).