Kosovo domestic abuse shelter tries to overcome huge barriers
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 11:05 AM

As the only domestic abuse shelter in Kosovo, Liria faces massive cultural and financial challenges. The center was founded in 1999, soon after the international peacekeeping forces descended on the area following Kosovo's civil war. Nazife Jonuzi, the director of Liria, says these troops brought with them a Western approach to women in society, hiring women to work on military bases, acting respectfully, and, critically, expecting Kosovar men to do the same. The idea that domestic abuse is a private affair and should be dealt with by the family is one so entrenched in Kosovo that Jonuzi says there was no concept of shelters for victims of domestic violence before the Western peacekeeping troops arrived.

In addition to the task of challenging deeply-held cultural norms, Liria currently faces a financial crisis as funders refuse to dispense promised funds. At first, Liria was supported by international non-governmental organizations, but now both the center and peacekeeping troops report that its budget is supposed to come equally from Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local municipality. However, while the municipality had already provided a building free of charge, it has so far refused to dispense its share of funding to Liria. The Austrian Ministry is waiting to see what happens with the municipality before offering their share. Liria and the women it serves are waiting, too, but also continuing to work against domestic abuse as the only safe haven for Kosovar women.

Compiled from: "A Haven for Abused Women in Kosovo", Damaso Reyes, Christian Science Monitor, 5 January 2006.