Media’s Role in Reporting Domestic Violence

On 29 November, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK), supported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), organized a workshop on “Media’s Role in Reporting Domestic Violence”. The workshop brought together key institutions that play a role in preventing, countering and providing protection against domestic violence, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, including the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN), represented by Adelina Berisha, coordinator for advocacy against gender-based violence. At the meeting were also present: the National Coordinator against Domestic Violence, Mr. Naim Qelaj, the Head of the Kosovo Police Unit Against Domestic Violence, Ms. Tahire Haxholli, reporters from various local media. The opening and welcoming remarks of this meeting were delivered by the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Mr. Jan Braathu.

During the panel, Ms. Berisha talked about the importance of cooperation between the media and the non-governmental organizations in preventing and combating domestic violence. She stressed that: “Thanks to this cooperation, we have managed to identify domestic violence cases, which we then assisted by engaging attorneys to represent family members and victims of violence in courts. So far, we have assisted two cases, with the assistance of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and the purpose is not limited to providing legal support, but also in identifying violations by local institutions.”

She also emphasized the importance of the media in changing citizens’ beliefs on domestic violence, and stressed that: “The media should be beacons of mentality changes on gender violence, roles and stereotypes, (non)punishment of violence, and its prevention”. Berisha reiterated that the KWN constantly calls on local media to focus more on the perpetrators, rather than on the victims, and to be cautious in reporting such cases, ensuring that the victim’s identity is protected, and not insisting on interviewing victims, as all of this may re-traumatize and re-victimize them. In addition, she reminded local media about the tasks and activities they must undertake to implement the 2016-2020 National Strategy and Action Plan against Domestic Violence, and reiterated that the Kosovo government has a legal obligation to financially support initiatives for the conduct of activities arising from this strategy.