04 December 2020
On 25 November, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) organized the second in a series of “Women Empowerment Talks” on the topic "Role and sustainability of service providers for victims of gender-based violence: advancing the implementation of the Istanbul Convention."
The panelists, Basri Kastrati, Head of the Victims’ Advocacy Office, Vesna Stajic, Manager of the Novo Brdo/Novobërdë Women's Centre for Support and Development, and Tijana Simic LaValley, Programme Director at NGO Women’s Rights, focused on the role of service providers for victims of gender-based violence, their needs and the importance of having a holistic approach on this issue, and the way forward towards the implementation of the Istanbul Convention standards. The panelists stressed the main challenge victim support service providers face is financial sustainability and lack of coordinated approach.
The Head of the Victims’ Advocacy Office, Basri Kastrati, explained the work of the office: “As an institutional mechanism, we operate under the State Prosecution. We are a mechanism that represents the interests of victims of crime, with a particular focus on the victims of gender-based or domestic violence. For our institution, financial sustainability is luckily not an issue.”
Kastrati also noted that Kosovo has made progress in terms of protecting the rights of the victims and added: “We welcome the inclusion of the Istanbul Convention in the Constitution of Kosovo, which will further enforce the implementation of the rights of this category of victims.”
But how will the inclusion of the Istanbul Convention concretely help the work of the service providers?
For Vesna Stajic, who manages the Novo Brdo/Novobërdë Women's Centre for Support and Development, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention brings hope that a systemic solution to all these issues will be found. “I really hope that it will be respected and that the implementation of the Convention will mean that all service providers will be able to provide more adequate and more wholesome service to the victims,” stated Stajic.
Overall, this is seen as a huge step for Kosovo and the representatives of service providers expressed that they have been waiting for a long time for such a development.
“We worked a lot on this and it was a reason for celebration for all of us. What the Convention enables is a holistic approach – it obliges the state to develop policies that will enable all actors to participate in an adequate way to prevent violence against women and ensure that there are funds for the provision of all services. Another very important aspect is that it continuously recognizes the work of women NGO’s in preventing violence against women”, emphasized Tijana Simic LaValley, Programme Director at NGO Women’s Rights.
According to the Victim’s Advocacy Office, since 2003 approximately 15,000 domestic violence victims have sought help from relevant institutions.
The “Women’s Empowerment Talks” are part of EULEX’s activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.