Zejnepe Bytyqi`s murder by her husband in Suhareka in 2015, is not the only case that caused reactions in the civil society that deals with women`s rights.
According to the statistics of Kosovo Police (KP) last year, 988 women were victims of domestic violence – 119 more than in 2015.
“Apart from violence by their husbands, there are also women who face violence from their other family members, such as their father, brother and uncle,” the Kosovo Police explained.
Sh.B from Prishtina, a domestic violence victim, told KosovaLive that she had almost “gotten used” to domestic violence even though she was against it.
“My father beat me several times before I got married. As many other girls I saw violence as something normal, so he was my parent and could beat me if I made any mistake. But, violence continued by my husband also… The unstable economic conditions were the main cause of violence. Our children were young and they did not understand anything, but now they are grown up and they protect me any time I have conflicts with my husband, but now he has started to change as well. Now that both of us work, we have better conditions and less conflicts,” she explains.
The Kosovo Police asserts that they have enough professional capacity to investigate the cases of violence against women and that they treat every case seriously and that they are ready to offer protection and help to the victims.
“Police investigators within the units for domestic violence investigation constantly communicate with all levels of society and inform them about the consequences that domestic violence brings. If it happens, it should be reported to the appropriate department,” Information Office of the Kosovo Police responds.
For the Kosovo Police, “domestic violence is intolerable wherever it happens and the perpetrators will be strictly prosecuted and will be punished according to the current laws.”
The individuals who cause domestic violence face punishments that are set by law.
Ekrem Lutfiu, spokesman at the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, explains that in the acts ending in light bodily injuries the sentences go from three months to five years, whereas the acts ending to serious injuries go from one to ten years of sentence.
“As for the number of domestic violence cases, last year (2016) we have represented 1021 cases. Out of them, 512 cases have required restraining orders, 107 others have required emergent restraining orders and one case has required a temporary emergent restraining order. Disrespecting the restraining order is a criminal act which is prosecuted according to the article 25 of the law for domestic violence,” Lutfiu says.
This article says that those who disrespect the restraining orders commit a penal act and can be fined from 200 up to 2,000 euro, but may also be imprisoned up to six months.
While the perpetrators are imprisoned or fined, depending on the cases, many women who have been victims of domestic violence go to shelters. However, there are some who still decide to get back to their husbands, justifying the violence.
According to the latest published statistics of 2013-2014 by the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), a survey of 4,127 families’ economy, showed that 28% of women in most of the cases agree with it and justify the violence “when the woman neglects children,” 17% when women shows her autonomy, an example such as “going out of the house without letting her husband know,” 14% “when she argues with him,” whereas around one out of ten women believe that “beating the woman is justified if the woman refuses to have intercourse with her husband,” and “five percent if she burns the meal.”
According to the same source, the justification in each of the five situations is less present among those who live in richer family economies, those who are more educated and among women who have never been married.
“By a higher education level, women are less likely to justify the beating of the women by their husbands. There are 68% of uneducated women who agree with it compared to 9% of those who agree with it and have finished their higher education,” are some of the findings in the Kosovo Agency of Statistics report.
Even though there are women who justify domestic violence, a considerable portion report it to the police and seek protection and a fair trial.
The legal counselor at the institution of Ombudsperson, Luljeta Domaniku, says that while monitoring court hearings there were procrastinations in treating cases related to violence against women or men.
“Oftentimes, the Ombudsperson, through reports, draws the attention of the necessity of timely and appropriate reaction by the responsible authorities for violence cases. Lack of reaction or the failure of the responsible institutions to protect the victim is always unjustifiable. Also, a lack of institutions` cooperation regarding violence has been one of the main concerns of the Ombudsperson,” she emphasizes.
According to Domaniku, the main causes that lead to domestic violence are social, economic, cultural and other causes.
Adelina Berisha, coordinator for Research and Advocating on Gender Based Violence at the NGO Kosova Women`s Network, thinks that the punishments for the perpetrators are often smaller than the crime they commit.
“Domestic violence cases are treated only by the law against domestic violence, which often gives smaller punishments. In the past, KWN expressed its concern for this issue. In the case of sentencing Zejnepe Berisha`s murderer, after KWN`s reaction, his sentence was increased from 12 to 17 years of prison,” she says.
Berisha says that dire economic conditions and several factors may be the cause of domestic violence.
“In the research titled “Stop Justifications,” done in 2015, the citizens said that some of the causes of violence may be: dire economic conditions, unemployment, lack of education, marriage against one`s will, and war traumas. Also, some citizens considered that violence comes as a consequence of early marriages, culture and tradition and big families that live together in small spaces,” she emphasizes.
Iliriana Gashi, the director of the NGO “Kosova Women 4 Women,” asserts that women become double victims after reporting the violence.
“Most of women`s murder cases happened after the violence has been reported or after the divorce, but the legal actions taken, or better to say not taken, made the violence escalate. The level of the measures taken against the perpetrators is extraordinarily low. It is no secret that our justice system has gotten stuck in many aspects and unfortunately it is so in domestic violence cases also,” she says.
The psychologist Dritë Demelezi Sejdiu said to KosovaLive that domestic violence may cause consequences in women’s health and psychic condition.
“Violence is experienced as a trauma resulting in health problems as: stress, fear, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, lack of self-respect and self-confidence, confusion and insecurity. The woman who experiences violence feels underestimated, scared and insecure. This impacts her living a life she`s not satisfied with. She sees herself as unworthy, thus not taking care of herself, her needs and her life. She encounters difficulties in finishing daily activities due to lack of self-respect and self-confidence. She avoids social contacts thinking she`s not worthy of other’s accompany and attention. Constant negative thoughts go through her mind, creating a hopeless feeling about a satisfying and safe future,” Delmezi Sejdiu explains.