Throughout the past year, the Organization for Legal and Social Research – OMNES has held workshops for 35 women in Ferizaj, Fushë Kosova, and Pristina about stress and domestic violence and how to prevent these problems.
In addition to the workshops, OMNES also carried out research with 70 women and girls related to the framework of the initiative “Advocating to relevant institutions for protection against violence and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stress and depression in women.”
According to Blerim Gruda, project manager at OMNES, the two-month research was held in three municipalities and lasted five days. The online workshops have been held for women participants upon request.
“90% or 95% of them wanted the training to be held online because some of them probably had more confidence participating or simply did not want to see or meet physically. After the physical meetings, we started online training. They started to tell their stories without being exposed or having physical contact,” he said.
OMNES’ research has highlighted the increase in cases of stress and violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research shows that in the period March-June 2019, 557 domestic violence cases have been reported, while in the period March-June 2020, the number has increased to 696 cases.
Following the findings of the research, OMNES came up with a total of seven recommendations:
• To raise awareness in society in the prevention of violence against women, as it is necessary to change the attitudes and behaviours of both men and women, regarding prejudices and stereotypes against women in order to prevent domestic violence;
• Ensure that measures for emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic address cross-cutting inequalities, such as the needs of women of different abilities, ages, and ethnicity, and those in rural areas;
• To engage civil society more, including Civil Society Organizations in the process of drafting measures to address COVID-19 in the short, medium and long term;
• Revise the recovery plan in order to prioritize investments in social infrastructure, including health care, education, care services, social services, especially for people experiencing violence, and unsafe environments.
• The victim should be at the center of all policies and that the prosecution of the perpetrator should continue even if the victim withdraws;
• Allocate resources to evidence-based rehabilitation programs to prevent future violence;
• Ensure the availability of social housing that could be used for a period of time by victims of domestic violence, after they leave shelters and before they become fully financially independent.
However, the increase in cases did not turn out to be the only problem in society, since according to Gruda, during this time, there was also a lack of information on how to report the violence.
“I think the project has had a very positive impact on the basis of how much they have been informed on where and how to report on such cases,” said Gruda.
This project has been supported by the Kosovo Women’s Fund 17th round with the support of the European Union Office in Kosovo (EU) via KWN’s initiative: “Enhancing the Capacities and Resilience of CSO’s: Furthering Gender Equality Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.