President Osmani's address at the opening ceremony of the “16 days of activism against domestic violence and gender-based violence” global campaign

Dear Deputy Prime Minister, Minister,
Representatives of citizens, MPs,
Your Excellencies- Ambassadors,
Representatives of civil society and partner organizations,
Dear media representatives present here with us today,
Dear participants,

Thank you very much for the invitation, but above all for the joint commitment to the fight against gender-based violence.

Today we all received another horrible announcement. In the early hours of the morning a man killed his wife in the most macabre way, alerting us all that the phenomenon of gender-based violence remains extremely present in our society. In these moments, we share the pain and express our most sincere condolences for the lost life of our fellow citizen.

Unfortunately, news about gender-based violence is becoming more and more present in our daily lives. While the increase in the number of reported cases may coincide with what we hear, the fact that violence is so present in our Kosovo should concern us above all.

Coming out of a pandemic, we all have fresh memories of the pain and challenges experienced during its presence. However, gender-based violence remains a pandemic that we are not seeing the end of. As such, gender-based violence is the longest-running pandemic in human history.

Therefore, we must say it out loud, not only during the 16 days of activism, but every single day: when we talk about fighting gender-based violence, we must not compromise.

Because, while gender-based violence is one of the most flagrant violations of human rights, it does not represent a natural state of society. As such, it may need to be prevented and combated.

But above all, we must be clear that gender-based violence is not a topic that only girls and women should deal with. This is our common wound, so fighting it must be the result of the joint commitment of both women and men.

Therefore, today, as much as I address you women and girls, I invite the men and boys of Kosovo with the same vigour to work together towards the elimination of all forms of violence.

The reality of our days is such that 1 in 3 women in the world has experienced either physical or psychological violence in their lifetime. This is because violence coexists with us – it is in almost every neighborhood, in every public and private space – so many women and girls face violence. Among them, there are so many women and girls that we cannot even imagine that they could be the next victim.

The next 16 days are undoubtedly one of the most important periods in the cycle of 365 days of a year when talking about the issue of gender-based violence. But, the work in this direction has been carried out every single day. From public institutions to civil society organizations, commitment to funding, prevention, response and evidence has been a daily occurrence.

Despite the disturbing situation in the country during the last year in particular, we can never ignore the effort, the consistency of work and the regular commitment of the daily champions – women and men, girls and boys – who on a daily basis give their best for to fight violence, to save lives, and to guarantee dignity for victims of violence.

Therefore today, although faced with a bitter reality, I want to appreciate the extraordinary work that has been done for the approval of the National Strategy for Protection from Domestic Violence and Violence against Women 2022-2026, as well as the recent ratification of the coordination protocol between the institutions from the beginning of the investigation, to the criminal prosecution by the prosecution until the trial of the case. Also, based on recent developments, the work to combat gender-based violence will be at the top of the agenda of the Council for Democracy and Human Rights within my office. Whereas, it should be emphasized in particular that since 2020, our country has undertaken a series of obligations to address violence against women based on the Istanbul Convention, which we unanimously ratified in the Assembly of Kosovo.

Dear participants,
Dear citizens,

When we talk about gender-based violence, we talk about a life that is hurt on a regular basis, a woman who is oppressed, a girl whose hopes are gradually extinguished and a man who suffers undeserved pressure and pain. We are talking about a life that can be unjustly extinguished at any moment. It takes a lot of courage for a victim of violence to speak up, ask for help and to report it to the police, but I ask them to take this step. To undertake to take this step, as much as courage is required on their side, security must also be provided on our part, the sense of ease and comfort must be guaranteed on the part of the responsible institutions, the sense of protection because they come to us for protection.

Therefore, training and professional preparation of police officers, prosecutors and judges, civil servants, health workers, social centers and shelters should be our daily priority.

We have no time to waste because every minute lost can turn into a fatally ended life.

There can be no tolerance for negligent judges and prosecutors because in the face of crime there can be no compromise or mitigating circumstances.

There can be no understanding for the perpetrators because there is no appreciation for violence.

We will no longer accept arguments about lack of capacity because in the face of a national emergency such as gender-based violence is, we must fight with every resource and every capacity we have available.

We talk a lot about family and social values ​​here in Kosovo, which historically form the foundations of our society. We take so much pride in what we stand for and the values ​​on which we have developed as a society. But, I regret to say that when violence becomes a part of everyday life, then reflection becomes a necessity, we have nothing to be proud of anymore and we can no longer talk about values.

As long as the burden for policy-making, for preventing and fighting this phenomenon is rightly carried by the responsible institutions,  we must also see the origin of the problem and place it at the very center of the discussion. Gender-based violence is the cancer of today's society. Like with cancer and any other ailments, to successfully fight it we must first understand the causes of the problem.

And they, unfortunately, are many. From economic security, in fact the lack of it, lack of access to property and inheritance issues, lack of equal participation in social, political and decision-making processes at any level, to the interpretation through the application of double standards of norms of the relevant terms of justice, the negative phenomenon of gender-based violence represents one of the most complex and multidimensional challenges of our days.

But, at the root of all this is the sexist worldview deeply embedded in the DNA structure of society through education, whether in the family circle, social circle, in classrooms, on the street or at work. Sexism is a daily challenge fundamentally integrated into the way one thinks, acts and sometimes, even how policies, projects and strategies are designed.

Such a phenomenon is no longer an isolated phenomenon. Sexism is killing. So, enough is enough!

Ultimately, the real success in these efforts is not only the rehabilitation and protection of the victims, but the ultimate success is the prevention and elimination of cases of violence against women. Consequently, our common goal should be precisely the elimination and addressing of the phenomena that motivate it.

Therefore, whether through awareness campaigns, petitions, school activities in schools, within communities, religious institutions, regular discussions, legal initiatives and strategies, let no stone be left unturned to guarantee safety, protection of every life and dignity for women and girls and ultimately for every citizen without distinction.

Thank you!

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