KosovaLive360

Even with diplomas, still skeptical about perspective

Diana Kastrati, a third- year student at “Haxhi Zeka” Law Faculty in Gjilan, thinks that she will remain unemployed after finishing studies. She says that there are not enough jobs available in the city and that she will not be able to find a job relating her profession.

“We should be very prepared for this profession since it requires many challenges. However, even though we are prepared and have knowledge, we remain unemployed in our country and a lack of acquaintances plays a big role in this,” Kastrati said.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the number of unemployed in the municipality of Gjilan in 2015 was about 14,050, out of which 6,337 were women.

In 2016/2017 academic year in all departments of “Haxhi Zeka” University, 1,104 students were enrolled, of which more were women – 622. Most of them have no clue where will they find a job after they finish their studies.

In the previous year alone, 34 students (women) of the first generation of the Faculty of Economy graduated from “Kadri Zeka” University.

Liridona Sabedini, also a law student, does not either expect to find a job easily. One of the reasons is that there are not enough available jobs and she does not possess money in order to start a job in her profession.

“I am about to finish my studies. What I expect from my country is misery and ignoring all my studies. The career I have made until now is without the support of my county,” she emphasized.

Dukagjin Leka, vice-rector at the University of Gjilan, says that the university started decreasing the number of students in order to increase the quality of education. He says that at the law faculty, only 250 students have been enrolled, which is different from previous years when the number of the enrolled students reached up to 450-500 students.

“The unemployment rate in Kosovo is high but our study programs and increased quality are in concordance with the job market. Our aim is to prepare our students for the job market not only in Gjilan but in Kosovo and the Balkan region as well,” says he.

Agim Zuzaku, head of the Division for Development in Gjilan, says that the municipality is working on a project that focuses on the empowerment of women.

“Based on statistics of socio-economic development of 2017-2021, one of the objectives of this strategy is women`s empowerment. The two main components of this project are creating an informal network of women and making a strategy for entrepreneur women,” he said.

According to the statistics of the Department of Economic Development in Gjilan, the number of the women who owned businesses was 81, compared to 322 men. Whereas, in 2016, this comparison was even more unfavorable, 79 women compared to 370 men who owned a business.

Zuzaku adds that the municipality asked the employers to make it possible for the students to do practical work.

But according to an “analytic report on the opinions of the business community in Gjilan” for 2016, only 257 businesses out of 800 that were surveyed said they can offer seasonal jobs for students. On the other side, only 36 of those 800 businesses had declared lack of employees on their official profiles.

According to GAP Institute, currently 12.9% of Kosovar women who are working age have a job.

Arbresha Berisha

Women of Gjilan are given priority in employment 

For job openings in the municipality of Gjilan, women are given a greater priority in hiring.

“In the Municipality`s Directorate of Education, last months` employments show that 70% of the employees are women, whereas 30% of them are men. Also, in the municipality`s administration and in civil service, in equal conditions more priority was given to women,” says Lindita Salihu, official for gender equality in Gjilan.

Out of 90,178 inhabitants of Gjilan, 50.29% are men whereas 49.71% are women.

According to the evaluations made in January 2016 by the Municipality of Gjilan, the number of employees in public institutions based on gender is 1,334 men and 1,055 women.

There are no exact data how many people are employed in the private sector in the last years. But according to the data of the municipality, in 2012, out of 8,699 individuals who gained employment, only 2,078 were women.

Agim Zuzaku, director of the Department for Economic Development in Gjilan, says that the municipality is working toward economic empowerment of women.

“One of the objectives of the strategy for socio-economic development is the empowerment of entrepreneur women. We have created the informal women network. The purpose of this network is advocating in local and public institutions or advocating for problems which women in business face, starting from the implementation of affirmative measures which are required in the law for gender equality – which often are not applied in local or public institutions,” he emphasizes.

According to Zuzaku, the second stage of this project is finding grants and donors to fund businesses owned by women.

“Men often misunderstand this or try make use of it because of women`s priority be it in business or agriculture, e.g. in agriculture regardless of the focus of the business, it gains more points if the owner is a woman,” he added.

The number of businesses registered by women in the Center for Businesses Registration during 2016 was 101.

Qëndresa Hajdari, project manager at the NGO “Gruaja Hyjnore” in Gjilan, who deals with gender equality advancement, says that the number of women entrepreneurs in this municipality has been increased, but according to her there is still a need to do more in this field.

“Since our inception (in 2012) we as an NGO have worked a lot with women aged 15-50.  We raised awareness of health problems for women of all ages, and how to prevent them. We also raised awareness for their rights in property and inheritance, empowering women through handiwork and seamstress trainings, trainings for employment, and other activities,” she emphasizes.

According to Hajdari, the biggest interest of elder women is sewing and handicrafts. Women who are younger and have finished their studies are more interested in business and in getting employed in the public sector.

Gentiana Ajvazi, owner of “Genta” beauty salon, says that it was hard to own abusiness but that she does not lack success.

“I have had this profession for 13 years now. Any job has its difficulties, but when you like something and you do not give up, success will not be absent/you will be successful. For me it was difficult and pleasant at the same time since I like this profession,” she says.

Gentiana is not only making her dream come true, but is also helping other women in the same field.

“I have always offered everyone the possibility to gain more experience at my salon and I keep training groups of women, since each of us should find what we like,” she adds.

According to a 2016 report of the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, the rate of unemployment for women in Kosovo in 2014 was 41.6% compared to 33.1% of men, whereas in 2015 the unemployment rate for women was 36.6% and for men it was 31.8%.

 

Arbresha Berisha

 

Lack of property is leaving women without businesses

Blerina Xhaqku, a-28 year-old from Kamenica, mother of two, is one of many women who want to own her own her business. Her husband, Fatmir, has his own business. He is a landscape construction worker. She is not able to own a business like her husband since, according to her,her family did not share the inheritance proportionally between her and her brothers. Thus, it has been impossible for her to make her wish come true.

“I always wanted to have my business, be an entrepreneur and independent woman. But my family did not give me my share of inheritance. Thus I was unable to get a loan and open my business without having a property as a guarantee (collateral). Because of this, I had no more will and now I take care of two children,” Xhaqku said.

The results of the Labor Force Survey in Kosovo, conducted in 2016, shows that there are huge gender differences in the labor market. Almost one in five (19.6%) of women who are working age are currently working, compared to 62.4% of men who are working age. Among people of the Labor Force, unemployment is higher for women (34.3%) compared to men (26.9%).

Syzane Aliu, director of the company “Magic Ice,” placed on the Prishtinë-Ferizaj highway, says that recently the European Commission, USAID and the Ministry of Agriculture have helped her business keep going.

“Magic Ice” started working in 2004, processing milk and producing 30 kinds of ice-cream. In 2007, they started producing milk products (yogurt, white cheese, ricotta, etc), which were mainly sold within Kosovo`s market.

She invested her own capital in her business, even though often, as she says, entrepreneurship is considered “men`s territory.” But Aliu thinks this idea will gradually change in the future.

She feels sorry that when a baby is born, the first question in our society asks is: is it a boy or a girl?

“So, girls are seen as weak since the day they get to breathe. But each of us should start with ourselves, with the motto ‘gender equality among brothers and sisters’ in front of our children.”

Only by improving ourselves we can push other women to get engaged more in businesses,” Syzana Aliu says.

Diamante Binaku, a trainer at the Center for Trainings and Gender Studies in Prishtina, says that women in Kosovo find it difficult starting a business since most of them have no money or the needed support to do it.

“There are several reasons, but the main one is the lack of property registered in their name to use as collateral for getting a loan to open a business. Also, women lack money and lack financial support from banks or other financial institutions. As long as banks or other financial institutions in Kosovo won’t give loans in the needed sum to open a business without having real estate as a guarantee, women will not be able to open their own businesses,” Binaku said.

In a post on the web page of Women`s Network in Prishtina, it states that women have no access to assets, including her the property, which is managed by men in their family. Also, limited access to employment, property and family`s finances, puts women in an insecure situation.

 

Besarta Breznica

 

Still imposed upon in choosing their education

Lack of perspective in employment and the will for a better living often pushes parents to “choose” which education track their children follow, and sometimes, parents even choose their profession. Even if there is disagreement, usually children are forced to accept “the only offer on the table.”

A pedagogue at the Center for Social Work in Prishtina says that her enthusiasm to choose an education was killed by her parents.

“When I was young I wanted to study Physical Education (PE). I always loved sports since its energy and adrenaline attracted me. I was physically prepared. I ran very fast, but because back then a woman who was focused on sports was discriminated against, I had to choose another path and today I don`t feel totally complete,” says M.A., who wanted to remain anonymous.

Fitore Zeka, 18 years old, who is about to graduate at “Hoxhë Kadri Prishtina,” also tells KosovaLive that almost every day, she discusses with her parents what is best for her prospective employment.

“I like painting. I enrolled in the Economic Gymnasium because my parents wanted me to do so, telling me that this field ensures a better living in the future. I barely spent these three high school years.  My room is full of paintings which give me courage, but on the other side I`m uncomfortable because my parents push me to do something else,” Zeka expresses herself.

The number of students enrolled in the public universities in Kosovo in the 2016-2017 academic year was 15,487, whereas at University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina” (UP), it was 7,806.

According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), the number of graduates in UP alone during the 2013-2014 academic year was 7,621. The highest number of graduates according to KAS, came from the Faculty of Economy, with 1,312 graduates per year. The Faculty of Education has the second-highest number of graduates.

Florentina Dushi, an organizational psychologist at “Kolegji Dardania” (Dardania College) in Prishtina, thinks that parents begin imposing education at an early age, when children are given two separate models of how men and women should be developed.

“There is a tendency to discriminate against women in this aspect. This impacts them by causing them to stagnate in their career and not aiming higher in their profession. This kind of stagnation results in lowering the level of devotion and self-motivation in their workplace,” Dushi says.

Isa Thaçi,, a psychology teacher at “Hivzi Sylejmani” Gymnasium in Fushë Kosovë, shares the opinion. He says that the education is impacted by the family, by the economical conditions of the family, but also by the trends in the labor market. Family`s impact on choosing their children`s education, as Thaçi says, can have further consequences.

“Without will and love in choosing education, one may fail during studies, and may also fail in successful practical work management,” Thaçi says.

Imeri, 40 years old, a mother of four from Prishtina, wants her eldest daughter to continue studies after finishing high school, but doubts she`ll achieve this.

“I want my daughter to further continue her studies, but since I cannot support her financially by our social assistance, she has to quit school,” she says.

Hundreds of economy, law, sociology, education, pedagogy, and psychology students graduate each year at the universities of Kosovo, but only a small number of them are able to find a job.

According to Kosovo Agency of Statistics, the number of youngsters who searched for a job in 2016 alone was 145,807 of which 64,342 were women.

 

Mihane Fetahu

 

Another form of “rape”

A.T., 20 years-old from Lipjan, is one of several girls in Kosovo who have been sexually assaulted in the street. She was 17 years old when she was first assaulted in the street near the dental clinic in Lipjan by a 50-year-old man, who offered her money for sexual favors.

She didn`t tell anyone about this because she had no courage.

She faced another assault a couple of months ago, when she was going home from the faculty and the person who assaulted her even showed his genital organs to her.

“The dusk had fallen and I was walking home when I heard some steps approaching me speedily.  At the turn of the road I heard the words: ‘turn around, look what I got for you.’ Since I was near my house I knew it was somebody I know. I turned my head and I saw he was my neighbor`s son, he was younger than me and he was touching his genital organ,” she explains.

Again she could not tell this to anyone, but since this assault was repeated, as she says, initially she spoke to her parents and they went to talk to the parents of the abuser.

“Now he goes on another way when he sees me,” she says, “and when it happens to meet him, I don`t even look at his face.”

As a result of psychological pressure, she is not able to walk home alone. A member of her family has to walk her home from the bus station.

She did not go at the police station since, according to her, she did not believe the case would be solved. She thought the case would not take it into consideration.

Adelina Berisha from the Kosovo Women`s Network, who did a research paper on sexual assaults in Kosovo in 2015, said that 64.1% of women and 32.5% of men in Kosovo have gone through several forms of sexual assault in their life.

“The lack of reporting sexual assault comes is due to the lack of citizen`s knowledge of sexual assault. Also, the citizens do not know where they should send their complaints. Public and private institutions have not specified where one can report sexual assaults within those institutions. Also, we have noticed that the lack of defining sexual assault in the criminal code has often made it impossible for the citizens to get the needed help by the police when they reported the sexual assault,” Berisha said.

What exactly is “sexual assault?”

This is the definition according to Kosovo`s Law for Gender Equality, Article 3: “Any kind of unwanted verbal, non-verbal, or physical behavior of sexual nature, aimed at affecting or insulting  one`s dignity and creating a scary, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting environment, is considered sexual assault. Sexual assault can be part of or can lead to other forms of violence, such as sexual attack or rape. Sexual violence may include physical and psychological violence.”

“Ec shlirë” (walk freely) phone application has been launched a year ago by Kosovo Women`s Network and is being widely used, Berisha says, and there have been over 360 citizens who reported cases of sexual assault.

According to Kosovo Police (KP), over 51 such cases have been reported during 2016, and these cases have been sent to the justice offices.

Liridona Jemini-Gashi who is a psychologist, says that the causes of sexual harassment happen are related to the culture and values in society, and that the person who has been harassed may experienced problems during her life.

“The victims of sexual harassment usually go through serious psychological effects, which are usually manifested with anxiety, depression, headache, sleep disorders, loosing or gaining weight, self-esteem decrease and sexual dysfunction. It also costs them in their work: losing their job, ‘losing their morale,’ less job satisfaction, broken work relationships, etc…” Jemini-Gashi said.

Jeta Berisha, from “Artpolis,” says that people in our society still are unable to make a distinction between sexual harassment and flirting.

Also, women who get harassed are thought to have encouraged the harassment.

“People in Kosovo think that women create problems for themselves by wearing provocative clothes, but each of us has the right to wear whatever we wish. I do not feel comfortable when our society keeps teaching girls to be calm and be a man`s property, this is one of the biggest mistakes that our society makes. Girls start stereotyping themselves. Apart from being judged by the others, they also judge themselves,” Berisha said.

According to the Women`s Network, the harassment in the street seems to be one of the most common forms of sexual harassment in Kosovo. Harassment mostly comes by unknown people, but also by those who are known, such as friends, work colleagues, teachers, employers and work partners.

In cases when there is sexual harassment, most of people are prone to ignore it by not reporting it.

Also, according to the abovementioned report, some representatives of the institutions still are not aware of sexual harassment, its definition and the respective law. Sexual harassment is usually misunderstood as rape or sexual attack, whereas “less serious” forms of sexual harassment are either unknown or are considered to be not as important.

 

Besarta Breznica

 

Legal or not, marijuana manages to reach youngsters

Although Kosovo Police state that they try to keep law and order, the results of a small anonymous survey conducted by KosovaLive with youths 15-20 years old proves that the consumption of marijuana among young citizens of Kosovo is high, despite being illegal.

Eight from the 25 participants in the survey were against the legalization of marijuana because “it would be abused” and “has negative effects on mental health.”

Young people should spend their time with activities more important than marijuana, for this reason I wouldn’t legalize it,” stated one of the participants in the survey.

However, 17 other participants were pro-legalization. They had different reasons like: focusing on the positive effects of this substance, increasing incomes for the country, health benefits, etc. According to some, legalization would lower the consumption among youth who were driven by the curiosity for illegal things.

While something like alcohol, which is more dangerous than marijuana, is legal, I don’t think that this topic should still be a taboo,” answered another participant.

The Directorate for Investigation of Trafficking with Narcotics of Kosovo Police was established to meet the objectives and activities of the legislation in force as well as the international convention of this filed. Kosovo Police states that this year as well last year, there have been a number of successful operations in preventing and fighting trafficking with narcotics.

During the first six months of this year, Kosovo Police completed 307 drug operations and arrested 619 individuals. They have seized 1,461 kg and 394.12 grams of marijuana, 7.92 grams hashish, 13.8 grams heroine, 465.35 grams cocaine, 5,036 grams cannabis plants, 1,439 ml cannabis oil as well as 200 grams of cannabis proteins and other drugs in little quantities.

In cooperation with other relevant authorities, we are continually working to prevent cases where people abuse with narcotic substances. In the legal aspect, we will take severe measures against anyone who is involved in trafficking narcotic substances and/or doing other illegal actions that endanger the health of our youth,” state the Kosovo Police.

The police mention some of the preventive measures they took like patrolling different locations frequented by drug traffickers, meeting with national and international institutions, organizing campaigns for high schools to raise awareness of the negative effects of drug use, as well as increase logistic capacities (equipment to spot drugs).

There are two institutions that deal with the prevention and rehabilitation of drug users in Kosovo: the nongovernmental organization “Labyrinth,” and the Psychiatric Clinic in the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, which has a special department to treat drug users.

Lindor Bexheti, from Labyrinth, says that their programs mainly target women and children under eight years old. People who fall into this target group use drug treatment services the least.

Our programs are mainly for women, since there is a low percentage who get treatment. We have a small staff and can’t go out to find them and offer our services,” says Bexheti.

He doesn’t have an answer when it comes to the legalization of marijuana because according to him,in order to accept the legalization in our country, we have to regulate a lot of other things.

“Money can be abused, there is insufficient staff in awareness raising and rehabilitating centers to deal with the number of individuals in need of treatment.”

Bexheti agrees that the center does not have research for the exact number of drug users in Kosovo. However, based on the number of individuals who receive treatment, he thinks that compared to neighboring countries, Kosovo does not have a higher number of drug users.

All around the world, youngsters experiment with cannabis and it is not very concerning. In other countries however, they have awareness raising programs. It doesn’t mean that in Kosovo we have more users,” says Bexheti.

According to him, the saying “marijuana is a gateway drug” is just a myth. He says that this theory was used to lower the consumption.

When we ask heroin or cocaine users in our center what drug they used first, the majority say cannabis, not considering that alcohol is also a drug, and not thinking of the reasons that made them use drugs,” says Bexheti.

Safet Blakaj, from Labyrinth, says that the official number of problematic users of narcotic substances is around 5,000. He says that the growth in the number of youngsters who have gone from using weak narcotics to cocaine is concerning.

These year, the average age to start using drugs is sixteen,” says Blakaj.

Labyrinth’s analysis on drug addiction shows that the most used drugs are heroin and cocaine, followed by night club drugs such as ecstasy, while marijuana is lower than tobacco in this list. According to Bexheti, this shows that marijuana is not very addictive.

Based on what I have seen, marijuana addiction depends on the individual the substance either enhances their behavior or the contrary. Studies show that long-term usage has consequences. It can affect memory, performance, productivity, and makes you lazy in work and school,” says Bexheti.

He adds that,“Alcohol is worse for the bod. It is lethal. Facts show that the number of deaths caused by alcohol consumption is enormous, while cannabis does not cause deaths. However, I have seen that long-term usage causes psychological problems…, but the users, who got those results, were usually genetically prone to having those problems and cannabis has further helped develop them.”

According to him, marijuana legalization does not mean that more people will buy it. There are no facts that point to a growth of marijuana consumption because of legalization. He adds that if it is legalized, there will be statistics of the exact number of users and sellers.

In our country there are not many rehabilitation services, the majority come in with their own will to get rehabilitated. The police have nothing to do with the individuals in need of treatment. We are here to treat them, not to turn them in,” he says.

A.G., a 17-year-old user of marijuana, says that curiosity made him try marijuana.

I started using marijuana when I was 16 years old. I was in a café with friends the first time I got the idea to try it. I have never thought of quitting but I know that if I wanted to, it isn’t going to be hard,” he says.

He believes he is aware of the negative as well as the positive effects of this substance.

If it is used in a large dose, you can’t control your actions. It is not lethal, it is quite relaxing and improves your mood. Also, it can used as medicine to kill cancer cells,” he believes.

A.G. also admits that his friends use marijuana and that every day it is getting easier and easier to find and buy it. According to him, it is not very expensive. From the countries of this region, only in Albania does it cost less.

Another user that wanted to remain anonymous, L.D., 18 years old, says that he has been smoking marijuana for the past two years. He also admits that his friends smoke it as well. He says that it is not expensive. 1-3 joints cost 5 Euros. He started smoking marijuana because “he wanted to try it,” as “something to relax and get a better mood.”

“I have never had any problems with the police or anyone about this and I support the legalization of marijuana, because even if it is not legalized, it will still be used,” says L.D.

The police have asked other relevant institutions like educational institutions, the civil society, and different NGOs to do activities to raise the awareness of the dangers of drug consumption. They are trying and they state that they are ready to cooperate with anyone in order to decrease the number of drug users and to create a safer environment for all.

Njomza Berisha

An initiative to stop mistreating interns and start paying their internships

A group of young Kosovars decided to start an initiative to change the law for internships. They got the idea by witnessing a lot of interns get mistreated in various ways by their employers.

The initiative “Pay my Internship – Kosovo” has a number of goals: topersuade institutions to recognize internships, pay for internships, and respect interns.

Linda Gjokaj, the initiator of this idea, says that “Pay my internship – Kosovo” strives to get paid internships for everyone regardless of where they are interning.

I came up with this idea based on my personal experience with numerous internships. I may have worked more than full-time workers and I didn’t get paid,” she says.

This initiative also strives to persuade legislative institutions to correct internship laws. According to “Pay my internship – Kosovo,” the law should state that there should be a payment, even if symbolic, to show appreciation for the efforts and hard-work of interns.

“We are not asking for a lot, at least for a symbolic payment with which students can use to take care of some of their expenses, even if it’s just for daily meals,” says Gjokaj.

EgzonMumxhiu, Masters student at the University of Prishtina, studying International Relations, supports this initiative. He recalls his experience as an intern in the Municipality of Prishtina.

I have finished an internship in the Directorate of Culture in the Municipality of Prishtina. The internship lasted from 1st of November until the 31st of December 2016. We worked full-time and with the same responsibilities as the employees, but we weren’t paid,” he says.

Although he advanced professionally, the lack of payment damaged him economically, such as work-related expenses like food and drinks during breaks, as well as other services which cost a considerable amount of money. These were among the reasons he quit his internship.

If I had been paid at least a symbolic amount of money to cover some expenses, of course I would have continue my internship,” Mumxhiu adds.

For his internship at “Lëvizja Fol” organization, he was paid 50€.

It’s a symbolic amount but with a lot of value for a student,” he says.

According to him, a considerable number of employers don’t regard internships as serious or important work.

Mumxhiu emphasizes the fact that although he finished some internships, they were not viewed as “work experience” by some places where he applied for work.

The Law on Labour was written in 2010. It states that the employer, in agreement with an interested party, may engage interns without pay or any other rights emerging from the employment relationship, apart from being obliged to offer occupational safety and protection according to the Law. The employer who engages the intern without compensation of salary shall be obliged to evidence the intern in the list of evidences without compensation of salary.

The duration of the internship may vary based on the level of education. The practical work of an intern with high, university and post-graduate qualification shall not last more than one year, whereas the practical work of an intern with secondary education shall last not more
than six months. Collective Contract and Employer’s Internal Act shall define the form of professional capacity building and the duration of the internship.

Adeline Gjergji

Child marriages are finding their way into some Kosovar communities

Pale, a 50 year-old woman, is sitting on a chair in the market in Fushë Kosovë selling clothes together with her husband. When asked if she believes that child marriages are present in the Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali communities, she said, smiling: “I am a good example.”

She got married vey young and now has five daughters and three sons. All are married.

I was married very young. I have five daughters and three sons. All are married. Now we have 35 grandchildren. We have to stay outside when they come to visit,” says Pale.

Pale’s husband, Avdi, adds that they don’t know all of their names.

We get married early, for that reason we are a large family. I don’t know the names of all my grandchildren I just say ‘hey you’ and they turn around. It’s hard work to remember all the names. My daughters-in-law are pregnant and the family will become even larger, I can’t afford to learn all their names,” he says.

Mehmet, a 9-year-old from Fushë Kosovë, says that both of his sisters got married very young and didn’t continue their schooling.

My oldest sister got married in Germany when she was 17 and now she has two young sons. My other sister got married when she was 18 and has a son,” says Muhamet, adding that he knows a lot of cases like these.

Jeton Jashari, representative of the Roma community in Fushë Kosovë and assistant of the minister’s deputy in the Ministry for Community and Return, says that girls from the Roma community usually only go to elementary school. When they reach puberty, they stop going to school because of the possibility of sexual harassment or because their parents fear that something bad might happen to them.

The Roma community is Muslim. That is one reason why girls get married very young, but the number is decreasing. It is not so alarming, like people think that everyone in the Roma community gets married when they are 12 or 13 years old,” he says.

According to him, since people from the Roma community are Muslim, they live according to the holy book, where it is stated that it is better to get married young in order to escape amoralities and infectious diseases.

According to a report from The Network of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Women Organizations of Kosovo (RROGRAEK), 96.8% of this community are Muslims.

There is a law in Kosovo that prohibits child marriages. Jashari believes that different organizations and institutions should deal with this problem and follow police and judicial proceedings.

I got married when I was 26 years old, and my wife was 24. Two years ago we had a son. With this, I have tried to be a good example, although it’s a personal decision. A positive point is that they have become aware that they need to legally register their marriage, some of them even follow all the divorce procedures,” he said.

According to UNFPA, “Child or early marriage is the union of two persons, officially or unofficially, at least one of whom is under 18 years of age.”

The fact that they are children shows us that they are incapable of making a decision as big as getting married. Child marriages violate children’s rights.

The number of child marriages is now relatively low in Kosovo, but not something extraordinary for some ethnic groups like Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian and Gorans.

In the UNFPA report it is stated that child marriages are rarely registered. Their parents or legal guardians avoid contact with authorities because of the penal punishment and because administrative procedures for a legal marriage under the age of 18 take time and cost money.

Refering to UNFPA, in 14 municipal courts, 116 requests for early marriage were reported in 2010 and 107 in 2011. No marriages involving minors aged 15 and under were recorded in 2010.The 108 officially registered child marriages in 2010 involved 16- and 17-year-old girls.

Some of the consequences of child marriages are family violence, isolation from friends and family, divorces, unwanted pregnancies, complications during pregnancy, interruption of education and low chances to get employed.

According to research conducted by RROGRAEK, from this community, 38.3% of girls are uneducated, while 77% are married.

Nearly all of them are housewives – 61.7%. Only 1.2% are employed.

A large number of them, 34%, have agreed that their parents decided where and with whom their daughters marry. Only 13% didn’t agree.

When it comes to education, 47% agreed that parents should decide if their daughters should get an education, and only 6 % disagreed.

According to the data of Kosovo Agency of Statistics in 2016, 16,051 Kosovar couples got married in Kosovo, and 1,359 Kosovar couples got married abroad.

Among them, 180 marriages came from the Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali communities, followed by 176 Bosnians marriages and 130 Serbians marriages.

Fjolla Hajrizaj

Patriarchal mentality is leaving women in Kosovo without inheritance

Z.B., 40 year-old from Lipjan, is one of the women who asked for her share of inheritance. She heard in television that she, too, has rights for inheritance, and she decided to ask for it. But since her family is big and she has six brothers, none of them supported her, so they did not give her even a small part of their father`s fortune. They divided it equally amongst themselves only.

“I asked for my share of inheritance because even though I am a woman, I knew a part of it belonged to me. But my brothers said ‘you are already married and there`s nothing that belongs to you here. You can come and visit us, but we do not understand how can you ask for your share of inheritance because our father took care of you until the day you got married’. Apart from being humiliated by my brothers, the whole tribe started talking bad about me, as well as my husband`s family,” she says.

As a result, she did not visit her family for years since she was not welcome and had been insulted with the worst possible words.

After some time, she says, her husband died and since they had no children, her brothers-in-law did not give her her husband’s inheritance, and they expelled her from his family.

Thus, she was forced to go back to her family where, as she says, she`s humiliated and insulted just because she asked for her share of inheritance.

According to the sociologist Sibel Halimi, in many Kosovar families all around Kosovo (specifically those that are poor or from rural zones), women do not inherit when their fathers or husbands pass away. This is most present in those families when the woman has no children/antecessors. In most of the cases, if the person who passed away has no brother or son, the property is given to the man who is his closest blood relative.

“Women`s rights remain one of the main challenges for the development of Kosovo`s society, specifically relating to their right to inherit property and equally participate in economy. Kosovo`s laws state that men and women have equal rights, but the culture, tradition, economic conditions and the level of our education had a negative impact in reaching the equality that is lawfully guaranteed,” she says.

She also says that as a result of the traditional mentality, many women in Kosovo do not inherit property. Moreover, there are cases when they voluntarily give up from their inheritance, thus leaving it to the other family members, and the property is divided without listening to women`s opinion.

Sanije Grajçevci from “Aureola,” an NGO that creates awareness-raising and advocating campaigns for gender equality, as well as lobbying and networking in order to make it possible to all the women to actively participate in all levels of society, says that women, especially those who live in rural areas, are less informed and less aware for their rights. This situation is hardened even more by the perceptions, prejudices and patriarchal practices which impede the implementation of the lawful rights of women.

“Women in Kosovo, in most of the cases, are not given the right to inherit from their family since the inheritance is divided proportionally, only among the men of the family. Even during divorce, they often give up the common fortune gained during the marriage, hoping that they get it according to the tradition since they are not well informed of the existing laws,” she says.

She added that all this happens because of the lack of knowledge to seek their rights, but also because of the patriarchal mentality.

According to a research project done by Kosovo`s Women Network in 2015, only 19% of all surveyed women have property of their own, compared to 79% of the surveyed men.

There are plenty of laws related to gender equality in Kosovo and according to them the fortune of the family should be divided equally (50%-50%). According to the Law for Family, the division of the common fortune of the spouses can be completed during the marriage or when it ends in a divorce.

 

Besarta Breznica

 

With high grades but no scholarships

Medina Mehmeti, a Master’s level student at the University of Prishtina (UP) – Department of Albanian Language, thinks that it is unfair that Masters students are not given scholarships.

“During my Bachelor studies, I got the student scholarship every year. This year, although I have a high GPA, I cannot apply for a scholarship because our university does not give scholarships to Masters students. This fact concerns me because student expenses are quite high. We are all aware that a Masters semester costs 150 Euros, that means that it costs 300 Euros for one academic year, without including expenses for books and other equipment,” says Mehmeti.

There were 2,617 students registered in UP for the academic year 2016/2017. Of those,1,925 are full-time students.

Myrvete Badiviku, vice rector for finances in UP, says that 84.70% of transfers and subsidies, including scholarships, are financed from the incomes of the university. However, they are only given to Bachelor students.

With the decision of the Directing Board of UP, Masters level students don’t receive scholarships, because scholarships are given only to Bachelor students. In the future, however, if the budget increases, be it growth of income or help from the government, that decision can be changed,” says Badiviku.

Gresa Halimi, an engineering Master level student, says that the decision not to give scholarships to Master students is damaging the students.

According to her, this decision can negatively impact the quality of education.

I only have one exam before I graduate. My GPA is 10/10, but the university is not taking any measures to assist with finances. A scholarship would motivate us all. Our hard work is not being rewarded,” says Halimi.

Vice rector Myrvete Badiviku agrees that the scholarship would keep the students motivated, but according to her, the budget of UP and the criteria that the directing board limits them.

For the academic year 2016/2017, the University of Prishtina awarded 1,565 Bachelor students with scholarships. 1,299,000 Euros worth of subsidies were given to these students.

In the same academic year, Bachelor students received their scholarship in two parts. First, they received 400 Euros and later another 200 Euros. According to Badivuku this happened because of the limited income of the University.

Arbresha Berisha