TIRANA, Feb. 11 – A silent rally in support of Albania’s physically and emotionally violated girls and women took place in Tirana on Sunday.
The protest was fueled by the case of the group rape against one underage girl in Kavaja which shook public opinion last week, although protesters said this was just one of many cases.
“Such acts of violence reveal the lack of preparation of state and social structures to protect victims of violence and to shed light on criminal events in time,” Altin Hazizaj claimed from the Center for the Protection of Children Rights.
The protests gathered hundreds of citizens – parents, university and high school students in particular.
Protest participants claimed that hundreds other girls are endangered by physical and psychological violence in their homes and cities, but many hide the violence in fear of public ill-treatment and shaming.
Parents took their sons with them in the protest in sign of solidarity to girls and women.
Protesters gathered in front of the education ministry, displaying countless slogans and placards and then, carrying those slogans, marched through the main streets of Tirana to the police directorate.
Independent observers and experts of the Albanian society claimed that what happened in Kavaja is a grave event in many respects.
A 13-year-old girl was raped by some fellow students and minors in a Kavaja elementary school, but the event was kept a secret for two months by the perpetrators, who blackmailed the girl into using her for sex.
The story was eventually kept a secret for another week by the girl’s family and her school, until police intervened and arrested all the minors who got involved.
Hazizaj added that all parties involved do not possess the proper expertise or standard actions to uncover such serious criminal events without harming the victim.
According to him, all sides involved either politicize, produce inaccurate news or place the responsibility on third parties, underestimating the standard procedures for such events, starting from the gathering of evidence to protection and special attention to victims of violence.
The Kavaja incident was even debated in parliament last Thursday, when Minister of Interior Sander Lleshaj and opposition MPs exchanged accusations – the opposition blamed the government of hiding this incident, while the government blamed the other side of improperly exposing it to the public and harming the victim.