Kosovo has marked the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women with a call for all perpetrators of sexual violence that took place during the Kosovo war to be punished.
Kosovo’s president, Atifete Jahjaga, has urged institutions to strengthen existing mechanisms in order to “help victims of the war - especially raped women” with their integration into the society.
“Justice for rape victims should be quick and complete,” said Jahjaga during a conference organised on Sunday by the British embassy in Pristina.
“It is believed that about 20,000 Albanian women in Kosovo were victims of sexual violence in conflict, a crime that has until today gone unpunished, with those that have ordered and perpetrated these crimes getting away with impunity,” she stressed.
During the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, more than thirteen thousand people are estimated to have been killed, while more than 1,700 remain missing.
There is no official data how many women were affected by sexual violence as most victims remained silent about their rapes.
Vlora Citaku, Kosovo’s Minister for Integration said “these fourteen years of silence have multiplied the wounds and pain”.
“They still do not have the peace most of us have found,” she said.
National and international non-governmental organizations in Kosovo have launched an online campaign to “stop violence against women”.
The project is supported by UN Women in Kosovo, Kosovo 2.0, Care International and the Group for Security and Gender Issues.
The United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, designed to raise public awareness of the problem, has been observed annually on November 25 since 2000.