As part of the Women’s Access to Justice Project, the OSCE Presence in Albania has published this handbook by using a simple language and a “how to” approach (frequently asked questions). The handbook aims to raise awareness on domestic violence and the legal redress mechanisms available to combat it. More specifically, the handbook presents concisely the new law “On Measures against Violence in Family Relations”,which entered into force on 1 June, 2007, and provides practical guidance to victim
Domestic violence is common in our society. It happens between intimate partners and in families. It occurs in all social classes regardless of age, education, religion, economic status, ethnicity, or cultural identity. While the lack of official statistics makes it difficult to provide an accurate picture of the situation, some 30% of Albanian women perceive that they are victims of this form of abuse.
Domestic violence is behavior driven by a need to control. It can range from threats, annoying telephone calls and stalking (such as following the victim to and from work, and threatening her/him), to unwanted sexual intercourse, hitting and, in the worst cases, even death. Domestic violence is usually not a single event and often becomes more severe and frequent over time. Many abusers are not violent in other relationships, such as at work or with friends. They routinely deny the domestic violence and the severity of that violence. When confronted with their abusive behaviour, they tend to blame their partner for provoking it or refuse to accept responsibility for it.
While multiple factors contribute to domestic violence, this is always linked to inequalities and power imbalances in relationships. Often the abuser will say he or she is sorry, and you want to believe the abuse won’t happen again. But then, it does happen over and over again. You want to leave, but you are afraid of the consequences. Violence escalates unless steps are taken to change things. Remember: whatever the circumstances, violence is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused verbally or physically! And while the law cannot protect you absolutely from domestic violence, it can help you protect yourself against it.
In December 2006, the Albanian Parliament passed a new law to help the victims of domestic violence, Law no. 9669 of 18 December 2006 “On measures against violence in family relations” (Domestic Violence Law).
The purpose of the law is to prevent and reduce domestic violence in all its forms and to protect those who are victimized by it. Under the law, the civil courts can issue protection measures for victims through a quick, affordable and simple procedure. You can file for a Protection Order or an Emergency Protection Order against your abuser free of charge and without necessarily seeking the help of a lawyer.
While the law has now been strengthened to say that domestic violence is wrong and absolutely unacceptable, domestic violence may still be considered by some, unfortunately, as a “private, family matter”. In such cases, do not be discouraged and be prepared to insist that your rights be respected. There are people who can help you.
The purpose of this handbook is to explain to you what type of abuses are now considered domestic violence by the law, and how this can help you to protect yourself from further injury or even death by requesting the judge to issue protection orders against your abuser. Appendices to the handbook provide you with a list of counseling and shelter services that help victims of domestic violence, and pre-printed forms that you or your lawyer can use to request the court for protection orders.