Legal Representation by KWN: A Step towards Justice for Women

K.E.[1], a woman from Skenderaj despite living with her daughter for ten years after suffering domestic violence and divorce, found herself facing a daunting battle over her child’s custody. This happened following an unexpected move by her ex-husband filing a lawsuit seeking custody rights over their child. However, the unwavering support of the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) and the legal representation provided by KWN-appointed lawyer Fitim Gashi, led to victory in the courtroom.

During the initial stages of the court proceedings, at the first encounter between KWN, the lawyer, and the concerned party, she experienced a mixture of fear and shock due to the unexpected custody request from her ex-husband. This was particularly surprising considering the fact that the girl’s father had shown no interest in their daughter for the past ten years, not even making an effort to meet her.

With a sense of uncertainty about where to begin, K.E. received assistance in understanding the rights and legal procedures associated with child custody. The lawyer, committed to supporting K.E. and her daughter, stood ready to provide guidance and counsel on every step forward.

“Representing the defendant in this case was a source of immense satisfaction for me, as I firmly believe that my efforts made a significant contribution exclusively focused on protecting the child’s best interests. Despite being a challenging trial, as it was presided over by an ill-suited judge in relation to the legal teams, my colleague, the plaintiff’s lawyer, and I successfully persuaded the parties we represented to reach a mutual agreement on matters of child custody, visitation, and financial support. We firmly believed that this was the only way to protect the best interests of the child involved in the case”, said Gashi.

This journey was far from smooth, as there were numerous challenges encountered along the way. Despite the Center for Social Work’s recommendation that the child should remain with the parent with a better financial income, KWN presented compelling evidence that emphasized the significance of a committed parent who can provide a safe environment, highlighting that this factor outweighs mere financial stability.

“The CSW’s representative from Podujevo exhibited a detrimental approach by aligning herself with the plaintiff, rather than prioritizing the child’s best interests. Instead of recognizing the father’s lack of involvement for the past ten years, she expressed an opinion in favour of granting him custody.

This was concerning for me as the defender, as CSW’s officials often tend to be biased and unprofessional”, he added.

The party reached out to KWN for assistance in February 2023, and through the efforts of the lawyers, a settlement was reached in July of the same year. The party represented by KWN won the case, and the issue of the father’s contact with the child was resolved.

The party won a challenging battle, but it gave her strength and encouragement for the future.

“I am very pleased with your service, support, and representation that you have provided. The support you have provided for me is something I wouldn’t find anywhere else, and this is what I needed the most. Thanks to you and your commitment, I am now with my daughter,” said K.E.

K.E’s story and the assistance provided by KWN serve as an inspiration to many other women who are facing similar challenges in Kosovo.

Through the assistance provided by KWN, many cases of women who have experienced gender-based violence, domestic violence and sexual violence have resulted in positive outcomes for the parties.

They were encouraged not to give up and to fight for their rights. 

A Life Free from Gender-Based Violence remains one of the areas where KWN will continue to work through the implementation of its Strategy for 2023-2026[ZR1] .  The majority of the KWN’s advocacy work has been supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), co-financed by Sida, leading to the achievement of many significant changes towards the protection of individuals experiencing violence

KWN remains open to cooperation and assistance to victims of gender-based violence through free legal advice and referral to relevant institutions. If you need free legal aid for cases of gender-based violence, or know someone who needs it, contact us at: +383 (0)48 105 800.