Merita Doci, 49, shows bloody clothes for a beating of her husband on September 10, 2017 at her home in Fushe-Kruje, Serbia
„It’s his word against ours, there’s nothing to do.“ Refugee in a police station in Belgrade, Aleksandra asked for help but ran into the passivity of the authorities against gender violence.
The UN consecrated this Saturday the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a scourge suffered by all the countries of the Balkans.
After two years of abuse, Aleksandra, 33, refused to remain silent as advised by a policeman who said he could not do anything for lack of „evidence of violence or abuse.“
She filed a complaint and, pending a trial, she and her baby left the marital home and took refuge in a „safe house“ managed by the NGO Sigurna kuca in Belgrade.
In Serbia, a country with seven million inhabitants, 33 women were killed last year by a man from their environment.
In Bosnia, more than half of women and adolescents over the age of 15 have been victims of some form of violence, according to the Ministry of Human Rights.
– Without protection –
Nearly 70% of women in Kosovo -1.8 million inhabitants- have suffered spousal violence, according to the Women’s Network of that country, in which family violence, says this NGO, is considered „as a form of education and of discipline for children. “
In Albania, between January and September, the police recorded 3,000 cases of gender violence in a country of 2.8 million inhabitants. In 1,643 cases protective measures were ordered.
„The mentalities are still largely influenced by the patriarchal model, with a man in a dominant position over a submissive woman,“ says Ana Ruci, of the Refleksione association in Tirana.
In the former Yugoslavia, the situation is aggravated by the traumas of the wars of the 1990s, say the NGOs.
„The police react too slowly and it is not effective, but justice is even worse, judges are not sensitive to spousal violence,“ Vesna Stanojevic, in charge of a „safe house,“ said in Belgrade.
This passivity motivated the adoption of a law that provides for sanctions for the inaction of officials.
However, „there is not enough staff to put it into application,“ says Tanja Ignjatovic, of the Serbian NGO Centro de Mujeres Autónomas. The slowness of the procedures and insufficient protection encourage silence, he says.
In July, two women were killed in Belgrade in front of the institutions where they were supposedly protected.
The first time, her husband beat her to death with a stone in the presence of her three children. The murderer had just served two years in prison for violence against the oldest of them.
A few days later, another man stabbed his wife and strangled her four-year-old son in broad daylight.
– The murdered judge –
Since her ex-husband beat her in the street with an iron bar in July, Merita Doci, 49, is terrified of her home in Fushe-Kruje, in western Albania. The aggressor is fugitive but she has no protection measures.
In the evening, the AFP tells this mother who survives with a small job in a nearby prison, they take turns guarding her older son. And they leave an ax by the door.
„The police, the courts, the prosecutor, nobody does anything, when are they going to intervene, when are they dead?“ He asks.
How can you feel safe in a country where Judge Fildes Hafizi was murdered? This magistrate had alerted the police and her colleagues many times about the violence of her ex-husband.
But, in August, released after serving a three-year prison sentence for previous assaults, he killed her with a firearm in broad daylight in a street in Tirana.
„The death of a judge, who knew all the ins and outs of the law but could not use them to protect her own life is a source of discouragement for women,“ sums up the lawyer Vjollca Mece, former member of the Constitutional Court.