Qendra për Promovimin e të Drejtave të Grave (The Centre for Promotion of Women’s Rights)

Survivors of sexual violence perpetrated during the 1999 war in Kosovo have not received sufficient attention from Kosovo’s political leaders. The issue of sexual violence has not been raised in negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia. There has never been an official apology for the crimes committed against women, let alone a single court conviction or reparations.

By and large, society has ostracized and failed to support women who suffered this terrible crime. As a result, many women have attempted to continue their lives without ever learning how to psychologically deal with their pain. This often has in various health repercussions, including trauma, phobia, and untreated physical injuries. Identifying women who have suffered such crimes is crucial for providing them with much-needed assistance in developing coping mechanisms that will enable them to live their lives.

The Centre for Promotion of Women’s Rights began efforts to reach out to women who had suffered sexual violence during the war in 2012. With support from the Kosovo Women’s Fund, they referred the 37 women that they found in 13 villages of Drenas region to organizations specializing in offering psychological and medical rehabilitation.

Further, the Centre gathered women together to identify and deliver eight demands on behalf of women survivors to the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga.
Their effort was so successful that they received additional support from the Kosovo Women’s Fund in 2013 (€2,707), which enabled them to build on last year’s accomplishments by reaching out to women in 15 additional villages. In total, since 2012, they have reached 69 women.
“The silence has been broken,” said Kadire Tahiraj from the Centre. “We have worked with great willpower, and we appreciate the help and support that we have received from the Kosovo Women’s Network.”

Beyond providing women with psychological support and medical assistance, the Centre has encouraged and supported women in expressing their needs to public institutions. This has included the unique opportunity for women to meet with the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, in order to verbalize their concerns and request institutional support. Following the receipt of their eight demands last year,

President Jahjaga visited the women in 2013 and discussed how the government could better support them.
“The key to our lives has been opened,” a woman receiving support from the Centre said. “The hope to continue living life has been born. I feel stronger, and I won’t stop until justice has been served.”