Vatra Psycho-Social Center “Protect the victim, maximum punishment for perpetrators.”

“…From the very moment I heard the news on the media portals about the sexual abuse of a girl, I thought that as a society, we need to do something to seek protection for the victim. And there was no other way… Vatra Psycho-Social Center was at the forefront of work to protect the girl and demand justice on her behalf, but also on behalf of dozens of girls and women who find themselves in situations of abuse and exploitation… On Vatra’s social media (which I follow due to my activism), I became aware of the efforts that Vatra and other organizations in Albania had joined to seek justice, protection, and solidarity. “M.N (activist)

This account from a Vatra activist represents one of the numerous voices that emerged. Vatra Psycho-Social Center engaged in advocacy activities to ensure the protection of a girl who was sexually abused in the city of Vlorë by a group of perpetrators. Immediately after the incident, the center was involved in urging the immediate functioning of the Coordinated Referral Mechanism to take protective measures.

In addition to institutional engagement, Vatra committed to raising the voices of numerous activists, organizations, members of networks, and coalitions it is part of, giving a voice not only to that girl but also to all those girls who are victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation. The protest announced by Vatra and partner organizations on social media with the slogan “We protect the victim, maximum punishment for perpetrators” took place on November 2, 2023, with the participation of representatives from different cities of Albania, civil society activists, and media representatives. Vatra and its partners addressed the Prosecutor’s Office to take protective measures for the victim; conduct a criminal investigation, as well as requested the maximum punishment for the perpetrators.

“…We demand justice for the victim, we demand that law enforcement institutions enforce existing legislation and international conventions… We have hope in you this time!” (Civil society member) *.

“The time has come to change our mindset; we need to educate young people, not only to avoid situations of violence and abuse but to condemn them, not to remain indifferent!” (Civil society member) *

Two days after the protest, it was learned from law enforcement authorities that, as a result of the investigation into protective measures, measures were taken for some violations that occurred in the protection of this case.

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