On 14 May, representatives from the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN), KFOR and the activist feminist group FemACT met with students from the secondary school “Xhevdet Doda”, in order to discuss sexual harassment.
This debate was organized for many reasons. First, the Liaison Monitoring Team of the Italian Forces of KFOR had visited Prishtina schools where they spoke to students about issues and problems that they are faced with in their daily lives. Sexual harassment was one of the issues most frequently mentioned by students. Second, last year KWN also organized meetings with girls and boys in order to discuss their problems, and sexual harassment was mentioned as one of the greatest challenges faced by most young women.
From the school, 30 students took part, as well as the Director of the school, Prof. Azem Jaha. Adea Kondirolli and Erleta Morina, two FemACT activists took part in the meeting as well.
In the beginning, KWN screened the video from the campaign Take Back the Night, on which the entire debate was based. The debate was moderated by Donjeta Morina from KWN.
The students were very knowledgeable, prepared and open-minded. They criticized the phenomenon of sexual harassment, referring to it as a horrible yet very widespread phenomenon, especially in Prishtina. They acknowledged that sexual harassment is something that we need to combat together, from childhood on. KWN and FemACT activists were impressed by the students and their thoughts and opinions on the matter.
“During the campaign we have continuously encountered people who would tell us that sexual harassment is not really a problem, and it is not that widespread, and that it is quite irrelevant,” said Donjeta Morina. “It is quite inspiring to listen to you students acknowledging how problematic this issue is and vowing to fight against it.”
At the end of the debate, the students offered recommendations regarding how they think the phenomenon of sexual harassment can be best fought. They recommended that institutional mechanisms be reinforced and implemented, but also suggested to work with parents, so that they listen to their children and take instances of sexual harassment seriously.
“Debates such as this one are very important. I strongly suggest you keep holding them in other schools as well, since they encourage me to keep combating this issue, which is still considered a taboo and not discussed publically,” said an 11th grade student.
FemAct is a group of young activist feminists, girls and boys, who work towards a more equal society.
KWN is currently working on a Kosovo-wide research on domestic violence and sexual harassment, the results of which will inform the National Strategy and Action Plan against Domestic Violence. KWN and partners will initiate a widespread awareness campaign after the results of the research are available.