Innovative campaign contributes to increased reporting rates of violence in Kosovo

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020

Reporting rates to the police of incidents of violence against women have increased by 20 per cent since the launch of an innovative campaign aiming to involve the public in preventing violence against women. The campaign is led by Kosovo Gender Studies Centre under the EU-UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union.

Gender Studies Centre
Photo courtesy of Kosovo Gender Studies Centre

If you see something, would you say something? When it comes to reporting cases of violence against women, more and more people in Kosovo[1] are saying “Yes.” Since 2018, there has been a 20 per cent increase in reporting rates of violence against women to the police in three municipalities of Kosovo. The three municipalities – Gjakovë, Gjilan, and Prizren – have been the focus of an innovative campaign aiming to encourage reporting and involve the public in preventing violence against women.

In Kosovo, patriarchal norms that tolerate and normalize violence against women remain embedded in the public mindset. Attacks against women primarily take the form of domestic and sexual violence. Often, social stigma against victims and the perception of domestic violence as a ‘private’ matter to be addressed within the family prevent victims and witnesses from reporting violence to the authorities. This campaign aims to change that.

“If a victim of violence is supported and encouraged, she may feel stronger and more able to make decisions,” noted Fikrije Qoqaj, the Domestic Violence Coordinator in Prizren, a city in southern Kosovo where the campaign is being implemented.

The campaign, led by the Kosovo Gender Studies Centre (KGSC) under the EU-UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” is built around a single overarching message – preventing violence against women is everyone’s responsibility. So far, the campaign has reached over 800,000 people through events, social media, and a short video featured on buses traveling from Pristina, the capital, to the three target cities of the campaign. 

In contrast to traditional awareness raising campaigns, KGSC aims to change individuals’ behaviour rather than their attitudes and beliefs. To achieve this, the campaign focuses on education, awareness raising, and messaging that urges Kosovars to speak up if they suspect something. The campaign is targeted at individuals around the age of 35 – the age group most likely to report violence to the police, whether as witnesses, neighbours, or victims themselves.

In designing the campaign, the organization utilized the Communication for Behavioural Impact (COMBI) approach, a methodology for inducing behavioural change that incorporates strategies that have long been part of private sector marketing campaigns. Prior to the campaign, KGSC staff participated in two practical trainings held by UN Women on the principles and application of the COMBI methodology. Together with campaigns from civil society organizations across the region, the KGSC campaign forms part of the Gender Lab, a region-wide initiative that tests and implements innovative strategies for creating behavioural change to prevent violence against women and girls.

“Your help can make a great difference to someone who is abused,” a participant from Gjakovë remarked. KGSC is making sure that the people of Kosovo know how they can help make that difference.   

 

 


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