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Five denunciations of sexual harassment since the adoption of the Regulation in UP

November 21, 2023


Yesterday, on November 20, 2023, Artpolis published the research report “Analysis on Knowledge of Students on the Existence and Implementation of the University of Pristina “Hasan Prishtina” Regulation against Sexual Harassment and Harassment”, with author Ariana Qosaj-Mustafa.

The report focuses on the analysis of the University of Prishtina and the existing levels of response in the implementation of the Regulation against sexual harassment, being the largest University in Kosovo as well as the first university that has adopted a specific regulation for addressing cases of reporting sexual harassment and harassment within public universities.

Since the adoption of the Regulation, in May 2021, the Office for Prevention and Protection from Sexual Harassment and Harassment has received a total of five (5) reports with allegations of sexual harassment, of which three (3) were submitted physically and two (2) in electronic form.

During the presentation of the methodology and findings of the main recommendations of this report, Ariana Qosaj-Mustafa emphasized that there is still a very high rate of non-reporting of cases due to the lack of confidence from students that the institutions will take appropriate punitive measures against the perpetrators.

  “Mostly, students have a general disbelief that serious measures will be taken and are generally not aware of the procedure to be followed for reporting. Further, the lack of any published cases of measures taken by the University of Pristina, or a general lack of knowledge on the outcomes of officially reported cases, are listed as reasons for students being discouraged from reporting. In cases where students witnessed or suffered sexual harassment, 96.7% of them did not report the case”, said Qosaj-Mustafa during the presentation of the research report at the “Ali Hadri” amphitheater in the Central Administration of the University of Pristina “Hasan Prishtina” “.

Out of a total of 208 students surveyed, 59.6% of them were informed about the adoption of the UP Regulation against sexual harassment, while the rest 40.4% of students were not informed about the adoption of the regulation.

However, at the level of understanding of the definition of sexual harassment and whether the students were aware of or witnessed cases of sexual harassment in their respective institution, a total of 50.5% of the respondents stated that they knew or were witnesses of cases of sexual harassment;

This investigative report has also highlighted some of the main shortcomings of the existing framework, while recommending some changes to increase the efficiency of the implementation of the Regulation and increase the reporting of cases of sexual harassment.

In accordance with the recommendations of NGOs and activist members of the initial working group for the drafting of the UP Regulation against sexual harassment, the new UP management should create a new working group for the amendment of the UP Regulation on Protection from Sexual Harassment by addressing the shortened deadlines for reporting cases of sexual harassment from five years to one year only, therefore the reporting deadlines should be made up to five years in accordance with the requirements of international standards

Burden of proof is one of the points that is sought to be changed. Based on the anti-discrimination law, which requires that victims not be revictimized after they report cases, “the burden of proof falls on the defendant, who must prove that there was no violation of the principle of equal treatment.” Otherwise, the existing Regulation of the UP has meant that the burden of proof will fall on both procedural parties.

Also, it is recommended to remove the Regulation’s requirement to require whistleblowers or reporting victims to sign a statement of moral, ethical, disciplinary and criminal responsibility when reporting cases. The students have also recommended that all consultations with students be held only in official settings, not outside the regular working hours of the university and outside the official settings.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion composed of the Minister of Education, Arbërie Nagavci, the Ombudsman, Naim Qelaj, representatives of the Kosovo Police – Regional Unit for Protection from Domestic Violence, Milazim Govori, professor and activist, Vjollca Krasniqi, as well as the activist and Officer of the program for addressing gender-based violence in the Women’s Network, Besarta Breznica. This panel was moderated by the Founder of Artpolis, Zana Hoxha.

The executive director of the Community Development Fund – CDF, Nermin Mahmuti, and Besnik Sherifi, analyst of the Youth Program from UNFPA, who have supported the publication of this research report, also had a word.

“I believe that the publication of the Report ‘Analysis on Knowledge of Students on the Existence and Implementation of the University of Pristina “Hasan Prishtina” Regulation against Sexual Harassment and Harassment ‘ will have an extremely large impact, because we will identify the challenges and move forward in addressing them, and Artpolis will be at the forefront of the task as it has been all these years”, said Mahmuti, who reiterated CDF’s support for this cause.

Whereas Sherifi stated that the Report is a call to multiply our efforts for education, awareness and prevention of sexual harassment in our society.

Minister Nagavci, among other things, said that regulations, laws and everything that regulates this issue in the normative aspect are very important, but the implementation of regulations and laws in practice remains equally important. According to her, in terms of legislation, we stand quite well, starting with the Constitution, the Law on Gender Equality, the Criminal Code, the Istanbul Convention, etc.

“I would like to be very optimistic, but the situation continues to remain disturbing either because of prejudices, stigma, but also because of the lack of qualification of acts that are sexual harassment as such. Our next step is that this regulation is not only for the University of Pristina. We understand that UP is the oldest and the largest, but all discussions are taking place only at the University of Prishtina, while we also have other public universities and a large number of private colleges… and there is already a draft plan, which will be launched very soon to address some of the findings that were mentioned here and a concrete plan of action, so that the Regulation is also implemented in practice”, said Nagavci.

The Ombudsperson, Naim Qelaj, has emphasized that there is ambiguity among the citizens as to where they should go to address such cases, stressing that more work should be done in awareness campaigns.

“This report reflects not only the situation in the University, but also the situation in society, when we refer to the fact of how many cases have been reported and what is our perception that sexual harassment exists among our society and to what extent it extends… The five cases for they show me an initiative and a step in the right direction, but it does not show the reality. Today, the citizen is not clear about the addresses where the case should be reported, while the institutions themselves are not aware of their role in addressing these cases,” he said.

Professor and activist Vjollca Krasniqi has focused on the silence and isolation of cases.

“The degree of violence that exists today in our society is not shown. Violence is still seen as the domain of the private sphere, and any violence must be resolved within the private role. The role of the University is very important to break this silence, and this taboo about gender-based violence. This report is an important moment for the UP that addresses and creates mechanisms to achieve transparency and accountability that makes academic institutions with academic integrity. Such initiatives that come from civil society are aimed at creating an equal and credible institution, and also that education creates equal spaces and a society that has zero tolerance for violence”, said Krasniqi.

Milazim Govori from the Kosovo Police emphasized that not every piece of information they receive is a criminal offense, but every piece of information must be treated and verified if it is a criminal offense.

“The regulation is a good job, and it should regulate the procedures up to the point when a behavior is a criminal offense, so that it is then implemented by the relevant institutions. We need to build trust in victims to report cases. All cases of criminal offenses must be reported to the police, and from there they must be treated confidentially”, said Govori.

Besarta Breznica from the Women’s Network said that sexual harassment has started to be talked about in our society. She called for public spaces, including the University of Pristina, to be safer for girls and women.

“Some of the spaces that are thought to be the safest for women, such as the home or the workplace, are actually the opposite of what happens, it is precisely these spaces that violate them and where they are harassed and killed. Students at UP do not feel comfortable reporting sexual harassment. The University of Pristina must create safe mechanisms for women and girls to have a safe space to speak. It is not only students who are victims of sexual harassment, there are also female professors who are harassed”, said Breznica, while adding that the mere existence of the Regulation is not enough, but it should serve for students to report the case. “This regulation must be reviewed and the KWN is ready to offer its expertise.”

The official for the prevention and protection from sexual harassment and harassment, Drita Hyseni, told the audience the steps that have been taken to inform students about the regulation.

She mentioned the information sessions for first-year students, which she also carries out in collaboration with Artpolis. Also, information through the university website and the SEMS system, which students use.

The executive director of Artpolis, Zana Hoxha, addressed an encouraging message to the students present in this report presentation and panel discussion.

“Never give up your studies if you have experienced any case of sexual harassment at university. You must use your right to defend yourself and report these cases. If you need, you can turn to us as an organization, if you need support”, said Hoxha, who emphasized that addressing sexual harassment 10 years ago was taboo, and yet there is progress in this aspect, but that is sufficient.

You can find the full report here:

The activity is organized within the “HumanRightivism” project implemented by the Community Development Fund – CDF, supported by the Swedish Embassy in Pristina and UNFPA.

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