12th June 2013: Visit of Medica Kosova in Gjakova

 

MEDICA KOSOVA HISTORY OF ACTIVITIES AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL

“Medica Kosova” is established in Aug 1999 and registered as a local NGO since Oct 2003 for improving the mental and physical situation of war-traumatized women, with special focus on women who experienced sexualized violence during the war. The support consists of psychosocial counseling, legal assistance and medical care in the center ambulance and the mobile unit traveling to the villages of Dukagjini Region to visit the women there.

Since 2006 and through 2009, Medica Kosova started developing income-generating activities in the sector of agriculture since most of the beneficiaries are women farmers who lost their husbands and/or their sons during the war. Through these projects covering agricultural, bee-keeping and cow-breeding activities the women achieved to generate average monthly incomes of 190 – 250 Euro, depending on the number of bees, cows and pieces of land they owned.

In going one-step forward toward the improvement of social living conditions of the female survivors of wartime violence, Medica Kosova started with the construction of a Dairy Plant funded by the German Ministry of Cooperation and Economic Development for the production of cheese and yoghurt in the processing capacity up to 3000 lit of milk per day. While the construction of the plant was concluded in the end of 2010 and the machinery arrived during June 2011, there is still a number of machinery works to be implemented, such as the purchase and installation of the energy system for heating and cooling the milk, the central heating system, air ventilation network, purchase of the laboratory equipment for milk testing, purchase of a milk transporter and arrangement of the dairy yard. This project aims at supporting the women through collecting their milk for the processing needs of the plant, providing employment opportunities for the women and supporting sustainable services of Medica Kosova human rights programs for improving the status and rights of the survivors of wartime and post-war violence.       

Since 2011, Medica Kosova started for the first time to address and support the needs of elderly women through an EU funded project that enabled opening of a Day Care Center of elderly women. The necessity for providing psychosocial, legal and medical support to this vulnerable and forgotten category of women came out after the complaints of some survivors of rape about their mothers-in-law preventing them to participate in Medica Kosova programs.

Since 1999 until the end of 2011, Medica Kosova supported over 8,600 women with all the above-mentioned programs. Currently the organization is supporting 190 women, out of which 87 elderly and 103 younger women coming mainly from the villages of Gjakova and Deqani Municipality. 

 

MEDICA KOSOVA ACTIVITIES AT LOBBY AND ADVOCACY LEVEL

Medica Kosova was very much involved in awareness raising activities at social and political level with many challenges of breaking the local borders of Gjakova municipality as a small town where the organization is situated. Comparing to organizations based in Prishtina where institutions of decision-making and important stakeholders are, Medica Kosova had to put double efforts in time and work to access these stakeholders and redress the status and rights of the survivors of rape.

Although these rights have been addressed for the first time during 2007 when a six-month campaign with roundtables and direct contacts with the women from the Parliament took place, the issue of wartime rape and the status of survivors of rape could not enter the governmental agenda due to the priority of settling the political status of Kosova. Since then, Medica Kosova required the amendment of the existing Law on war martyrs, invalids, veterans and civilian victims of war for the integration of rape survivors and their recognition as other categories of war.

During the second part of 2011 and especially 2012, the issue of the status and rights of survivors of wartime rape received the main attention in the public and institutions of Kosova. The key space in Kosova Women’s Network (KWN) strategies and the activities of the Women Caucus from the Parliament was given to the situation of the survivors of rape and their public recognition. We have to emphasize the role and both professional approach of investigators from EULEX Police who cooperated with our organization in the area of access to justice for the female survivors of wartime rape. This cooperation and cultural understanding approach led to the agreement of women to have mobilization of KWN member organizations, international agencies and missions as well as institutions campaign on their behalf. 

Since then, national protests requesting public and legal recognition of the survivors of rape took place in March 2012 for the first time after almost 13 years when the war ended in Kosova. Many activities at institutional level were taken to preparing the ground for this recognition of women who survived rape during the war. 

 

MEDICA KOSOVA STAFF AND THE WORK WITH SURVIVORS OF WARTIME RAPE

Medica Kosova currently has 18 staff members (15 females and 3 males) out of which 4 psychosocial counselors trained and graduated with masters degree in psychology and sociology; two lawyers; an agronomist; an economist; 2 interns and 5 technical staff (security guards, a driver, kitchen and center maintenance). Medica Kosova Executive Director graduated in English language and programs for project leaders in Washington DC and the American University in Prishtina. 

Medica Kosova supported insofar over 8,600 women and girls who experienced violence, human losses and other damages during the war, including the victims of domestic violence and legal rights abuse in the aftermath of war. However, only 136 women spoke about their traumatic experience related to sexualized violence during the war. Another 250 women are registered in the organization’s database as potential survivors of rape who demonstrated clear symptoms of sexual violence-related trauma after describing their presence in the patterns of violence at that time.

 

MEDICA KOSOVA ACTUAL FUNDED PROJECTS

 

Since January 2013 when the EC project on elderly women came to its end, the organization continues with three projects addressing the status and rights of the survivors of wartime rape in providing a comprehensive approach toward their rehabilitation and access to justice.

 

1. Project funded by UN Women aims at promoting the rights of women survivors of sexual violence during and after the conflict through awareness raising events, collection of relevant information on the situation of women subjected to SGBV during and after the conflict, advocacy training for key CSOs and other advocacy actions to be used as tools for changes in legal policy frameworks. This program started in June 2012 and will finish in September 2013.

 

2. Project funded by Kvinna till Kvinna from Sweden aims at improvement of family and social environment of the survivors, increase awareness among the target groups in their direct involvement in advocacy activities among institutional and civil society stakeholders and contribute to effective mobilization of all actors in achieving the status and rights of the survivors. This project also aims at raising awareness and mobilization of elderly women through joint art therapy sessions and their increased solidarity and support toward the survivors. The project started in January 2013 and by the end of the project in June 2014, the women will prepare two exhibitions - one in Gjakova and one in Prishtina - with their paintings. 

 

3. Project funded by the Embassy of Finland aims at supporting access to justice for the survivors of wartime rape through their psycho-social empowerment and legal preparation to be possibly taken to trial and remain reliable witnesses throughout the process.

Apart from psycho-social and legal counseling, the program includes distribution of bees and bee-keeping supplies to 27 survivors as well as training them on bee-care and the production of honey for improving their social situation and increasing their decision-making power within their families and communities. Similar to previous income-generating programs, within a period of one year the women will have to pass over the new born bees to other women in need and who will be selected by Medica Kosova through certain implemented criteria. 

Another key activity covers consultation meetings with EULEX Investigation Unit to provide the women with necessary infromation regarding the process of investigation and requirements of prosecution for an effective implementation of jusutice for the survivors. 

This project started in March 2013 and will finish in Feb 2014.

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