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Launch of “Speak up on Time” awareness campaign to stress importance of biological evidence preservation in sexual violence cases

09 September 2019

The Institute of Forensic Medicine in partnership with the Kosovo Police and EULEX commenced today an awareness raising campaign entitled “Speak up on Time” with a roundtable discussion among relevant stakeholders on the importance of biological evidence preservation in sexual violence cases.

As statistics of the Institute of Forensic Medicine show that most sexual violence victims are aged between 11 to 16 years old, the campaign aims to raise awareness among school children about the importance of biological evidence preservation in sexual violence cases, and to provide information on how to preserve such evidence to help bring perpetrators to justice.

“This is our direct contribution to help victims achieve justice and break the silence that surrounds those who have something to say and those who must hear,” said Bergita Curri, Forensics Medicine Specialist at the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

Arsim Gërxhaliu, Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, said that the institute remains committed to providing the most qualitative services to sexual violence victims, and added: “This awareness raising campaign is an attempt, beyond our official duty, to help those victims. Furthermore, the purpose of such a project is to trigger interinstitutional discussions, aiming at an improved handling of such cases at all levels."

Talking about the awareness raising campaign, Tarja Formisto, Deputy Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, stressed that now is the time to raise public awareness of what sexual violence is and to spread information on how to act and report a sexual violence case. “That’s what this campaign is all about – clear and simple advice and support for everyone, so that each of us plays their part in protecting children and young people from the trauma and pain of being sexually abused,” said Formisto.

Addressing the participants of the roundtable discussion, Atifete Jahjaga, former Kosovo President and President of the “Jahjaga Foundation”, focused on the survivors of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo:  “More than two decades have passed since the war ended in Kosovo. As time went by, the wounds of thousands of women and men who were raped during the war, have not healed; their souls have not rested. Carrying the burden of an untold crime, the survivors of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo have not made peace with their past, yet. That is why all of us need to unite, stand together, and create the necessary space and conditions for them to speak up. Their truth has been attempted to be concealed, hidden and buried for too long. We must break the silence once and for all and we can only do so by enabling each and every survivor of sexual violence during the war, as well as all sexual violence victims, come forward with their story”.

The “Speak up on Time” campaign envisages the organization of a series of educational lectures to 32 elementary and high schools throughout Kosovo. The lectures will be delivered by Institute of Forensic Medicine specialists and Kosovo Police representatives who will help raise awareness among school children of possible situations that expose vulnerable categories to the risk of being a sexual violence victim, and of the importance of biological evidence preservation in sexual violence cases. The “Speak up on Time” campaign will last until mid-2020.

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