Open Letter on the text of Professor Vesel Latifi

Addressed to the Author of the educational book “Criminology”, text reviewers of the educational book “Criminology”, Publishing Council, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Pro-rector of Education at the University of Prishtina:
Prishtina, October 21st, 2014
Through this letter we express our concern with the educational book “Criminology” by the Author Vesel Latifi, especially with regard to Chapter 31.3 titled “Characteristics of Victims of Forced Sexual Intercourse.”
We, the undersigned, hereby consider that the language used in this chapter is misogynic and inhuman to the victims of sexual violence, particularly the first two paragraphs of this chapter stating:
“Victims of forced sexual intercourse are usually women who are easily lied to, careless, frivolous, and promiscuous, circumstances that cause a victimological situation (attack against them). The objects of rape are often developed women of normal age, who are attractive, but often the 4-5 years-old girls, and in the other extreme, the old women, as well.
A case of rape against a 85-year-old woman has been reported. In addition, a large number of reports are false, made by sick, hysterical psychopaths with pathological diseases, etc. In some cases the motives that make women report falsely, even when they are normal, derive from jealousy, lack of love by one side, her being captured in the act, performing sexual act, and she willfully and due to shame speaks about violence, in order to gain material profits, etc.”
The World Health Organization defines sexual violence as:
“…actions ranging from verbal violence to coerced penetration and other kinds of coercion ranging from social pressure and intimidation to the physical violence.
Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to:
·         rape within marriage or dating relationships
·         rape by strangers or known persons
·         unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment (at school, work, etc.)
·         systematic rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of violence, which are usually used in armed conflicts (for example, forced pregnancy)
·         sexual abuse or mentally or physically disabled people,
·         sexual abuse or rape of children, and
·         ‘customary’ forms of sexual violence, such as forced marriage, relationship, or woman’s heredity.”
Not only does the text ignore these forms of sexual violence, but it does not even include the definitions set out by the Criminal Code of Kosovo.
The definition of the ‘typical’ victim by professor Latifi is extremely problematic. Serious research on sexual violence in Kosovo provide evidence that women of all ages, ethnicities, marital status, and various regions experience violence in Kosovo, and most of them experience gender-based violence (including the sexual violence) by their intimate partners rather than by a stranger. This violence has the tendency to be part of continuous violation (see: KWN: “Study on Level of Gender-based Violence in Kosovo…”).
The victim cannot simply be defined by frivolousness, carelessness, promiscuity, or “victimology” situation it causes. Sexual violence is a symptom of patriarchal society, in which women are considered inferior and their bodies as property. It is worth mentioning that in Kosovo society, it is impossible to think that the victim might also by a man, a boy, or any person who does not fit in the narrow definition of ‘victim’, given in Vesel’s text. Everyone can be a victim, and not only “developed women of normal age”.
The sexual violence is not only related to the sexual attraction or lust, but also to the rooted institutional and social inequality. The latter takes the forms as the sexual violence, but also as absence of heritage, legal protection, lack of representation, and concentration of power in hands of men.
Without credible references and sources, the author generalizes that a large number of reports are false, and not only false, but made by “sick, hysterical psychopaths with pathological diseases, etc.”, and by women who just lie because of adultery or material gain. Despite the fact that hysteria is a discredited term and diseases cannot be but pathological, such an attitude towards the victims of sexual violence discourages them (males and females) from reporting the violence to the relevant authorities.
In fact, the majority of rape cases in Kosovo are supposedly not reported to the justice authorities exactly because of the mistrust the institutions show and the lenient punishments that are imposed on the abusers (KWN, “More than words in paper…”). Moreover, with regard to non-reporting, more than half of interviewed women said that, “their partners forced them to perform sexual acts which they did not want” (KWN, “Study on Level of Gender-Based Violence…”). The same study documents that only 13 out of 96 interviewed gynecologists did not have any case of sexually violated patients. 
According to the World Health Organization, there are many reasons why women do not report the sexual violence, such as: lack of support from society and institutions, shame, fear from revenge, fear of blame, fear of maltreatment, and exclusion from society. In a society like Kosovo’s, where women do not find support even in social assistance centers which are obliged to help them; where shelters for the abused women do not have sufficient material sources and human resources to protect them; where policepersons suggest women to go back to their abusers; where families themselves hide the violence cases, mistrust and categorization of women who dare report their abusers as liars and psychologically sick, are but cruel. 
Institutions of knowledge are directly included in the creation of social rapports which result in such violence acts and stigmatization of the victims of this violence. The example of reproduction of this cruel attitude against the victims as guilty of the violence they experience is Professor Haki Demolli, who has recently stood in defense of the original text, saying that it represents a legitimate scientific attitude.
Instead of an educational text, which would aim at educating the future attorneys-at-law, prosecutors and judges of Kosovo in treating the cases of sexual violence, the “Criminology” text teaches them to mistrust the victims, discredit the charges and portray the female plaintiffs as sick and guilty.
We hereby request from the University of Prishtina to immediately strike out the “Criminology” text from the curricula of the Faculty of Law; to undertake the development of a strategy for inclusion of the critical gender perspectives; and to conduct the in-depth review of the accredited curricula and course outlines. 
The undersigned parties:
Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN)
University Program for Gender Studies and Research (University of Prishtina)
Alter Habitus – Institute for Studies in Society and Culture
GAP Institute
Center for Research, Documentation and Publication
Peer Educators Network (PEN)
Kosovar Stability Initiative (KSI)
Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR)