• She was only 12 years old and had been sexually abused by her 46-year-old stepfather for years.
• The 16-year-old had not been able to escape the threat of her classmate for months, that he would show her sex-related video if she did not have sex with him and his peers.
• The girl turned to the police to report the sexual violence she had been experiencing for a long time. Every day she was threatened by her neighbor that if she denounced him, she would suffer badly.
These stories are of children who have survived sexual violence and had a chance to tell their story. But they are also part of the daily work of Barnahus Albania: The National Centre for the Protection of Children and Adolescents from Sexual Violence, which in less than two years has managed to save about 31 children from daily sexual violence against them. Thanks to the help of the Barnahus team, the children denounced their abusers, and received free legal, psychological support, educational assistance, including in some cases relocation the family to a safer environment.
"During this period, we have saved from sexual abuse 31 children aged 4-18 years old and provided them with best possible psycho-social and legal services. Although the ratio between girls and boys is very disproportionate, it is worth noting is that a significant number of girls, 6 of them, are also potential victims of trafficking and exploitation inside and outside Albania, which makes their cases even more complex”- says Klaudio Pulaha, Case Manager at Barnahus Albania.
Barnahus Albania gets informed onthe cases of sexual violence, from several sources such as the National Helpline, Police, Prosecution Offices, Child Protection Units in 61 municipalities as well as the National Platform ISIGURT.al, which has seen a galloping increase in cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people, especially during the pandemic. From January to November of this year alone, the number of pornographic sites referred was 6,134, of which 6,057 were child pornography.
“We are having discussion with some of the global companies so that our services could be provided through chat, where the children are, such as: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. – which means that any form of online violence can be immediately reported to us by children, so that prosecution of child abusers can be done as soon as the crime occurs. In this context, our proposed changes to the Criminal Code and the establishment of the National Register of Sex Offenders, show the magnitude of the problems faced by children in Albania." - said Altin Hazizaj, General Director of CRCA / ECPAT Albania.
In addition to psychological support for children, counselling for their families, Barnahus Albania also provides free legal aid and representation in Court, in cooperation with the Free Legal Aid Office for Children and Youth in Albania. Support also includes the provision of community services for family empowerment and employment, health services, etc.
Barnahus Albania, which officially opened in October 2019, as part of the CRCA/ECPAT Albania initiative "Protecting children and youth from sexual violence in Albania" has become within such a short time the main service for protecting children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation.
CRCA/ECPAT Albania has 23 years of experience in establishing some of the most important and essential child and youth protection services. It has been licensed since 2011 to provide specialised social services at the community and national level.
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