Albania passed a series of laws in 2011 that made spousal abuse illegal. Today I attended a conference where social workers were trained on how to implement parts of this new law. Watching this powerful transformative work, I am in awe of what is being done here.
Albania is a male culture, so much so that I make sure I am home before dark. I sit next to only women on the furgon and I never even acknowledge men on the street. To do so would invite harassment at the very least. I type this as I sit in a café owned by my host family. I am the only female and can only do this because I am under the protection of my hosts. This is simply the way Albania has always been. Yet, the NGO I was with today and other NGOs through Albania are steadily changing that reality.
Check out Formuni Gruas Elbasan at www.forumigruaselbasan.org
The training conference today was equally split between men and women. This is a series of trainings reaching across the region and being replicated by other partner NGOs. FGE is not just targeting women. They recently completed a series of community forums where discussions in which men and boys spoke to other men and boys about violence in the home. Domestic Violence is a wicked problem even in the US. Public awareness is the first step on a long journey but I am moved by how committed some Albanians are to that journey.