Violence against women and girls (VAWG) has been a continuous issue in Albania. Over 50% of the women in Albania claim that they have encountered a form of domestic violence at least once in their life. Over 100 women and girls have been killed by domestic violence in the past two decades.
Albania isolated itself from other Western countries for more than forty years after WWII, as the country adopted a communist system. Gender equality failed to be noticed by the government and the people until recent years. The country carried over traditional ideals to the present day. Due to the underdeveloped economy in Albania, a large portion of the country is in poverty. Albanian women who are from poor families tend to have pre-arranged marriages in order to improve their lives. The males and elders of a family also favor boys over girls. A birth of a female infant could lead to disagreement between the wife and husband, which would cause domestic violence. Traditional values that consider daughters and wives as property of the males are also reasons for violence, sometimes even murders. The women are also greatly affected by the social values. According to a survey initiated in Albania by United Nations Development Programme, 50% of women believe that violence between a husband and wife is a private matter and that others should not intervene, and 46.5% believe that a woman should tolerate some violence to keep her family together. 27.5% of women believe that when a woman is beaten by her husband, she is partly to blame or at fault and that a woman should be ashamed or embarrassed to talk to anyone outside of her family about abuse or violence in her marriage. The victims are held back by the social norms and morals, which is another factor to be taken under consideration.
Over 4000 court protection orders were given to women and girls across the country in 2018, but the victims couldn’t receive prompt action from the police. On 23 July 2018, the Albanian Parliament approved amendments to a domestic violence law; women and girls who experience violence in Albania will now be granted immediate protection by the police. As soon as they report violence cases, they will be placed in safe shelters immediately, along with their children. Still, the victims are likely to be in danger due to the lack of law enforcement, and only big cities like Tirana have well-functioned shelters established.
Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) is a formal network NGO that fights for the equal treatment towards women and children in Europe by seeking to reduce and eliminate all forms of violence. The WAVE network has 146 members, both organizations and individuals. Members serve as sources of information about violence against women and children and exchange ideas and disseminate information throughout Europe. The Civil Society Strengthening Platform (CSSP) is one of the programs initiated by WAVE. It advocates for actions of the government, pushing for reforms and legislation to help fight violence against women and children. By funding WAVE, the U.S. gives this network more human resources to push for governmental actions more effectively.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Albanian government cofounded the National Centre for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Domestic Abuse with the support from Sweden. It is located in Tirana, the capitol city of Albania. This shelter provides psychological counsellors, social workers, a medical doctor, and a legal adviser, as well as career trainers to help the women to become independent. But this facility only operates in Tirana. With the help from the State Department, UNDP and the Albanian government could expand the coverage of this national shelter to help more victims in other areas in Albania.