Not all men are the same. There are men on our side. Some men help us and na bëjnë të ecim me kokën lart në vend që të na e ulin (lift our heads instead of lower it).
On the week of May 31, 2020, a tragic event became public. 65-year-old Abaz Doku was a retired security guard at a school in Tirana, Albania. Over the years of knowing the 15-year-old female, Doku had learned about her relationships with boys (which is highly forbidden in the Albanian culture if you are so young of age). As a result, he used this knowledge to force her to have a sexual relationship with him. This rape was recorded and distributed to many other males in the town who used this video against her to force her into other dangerous and dehumanizing situations. The boys sexually abused the girl for 7 straight days. There are even claims that the school knew and nothing was being done. The incident was reported by her parents to the police. Doku and the 3 other boys involved have been taken into custody for further investigation.
Notice in the first line of the article – “…this tragic event became PUBLIC”. Events like this happen every day to Albanian women and most likely other women all over the world. Shqiptaret (Albanians) are constantly pressured into situations and these stories of pain, anger, and helplessness are never told. Instead, they are hidden and locked away into the memories of the female for them to become as traumatic as the day that the event occurred.
Non-Albanians might ask:
Why do you hush yourself?
Why do you not speak up?
Why are you afraid?
But Albanians will say:
If I tell someone, they might tell another.
If I ask for help, they might laugh and say it was my fault because I am friendly/ I wear dresses/ because I have had boyfriends/girlfriends in the past.
If I tell my parents, they’ll disown me.
If I tell the world, my family will be the embarrassment of the town.
If I tell someone, they won’t understand.
In other words: REPUTACION (Reputation). In Albanian culture, what your family does determines your future. If there is someone who is on the wrong path OR what the Albanian culture deems the wrong path – say having a boyfriend, you and your family will have generated a bad name. This leads to embarrassment, gross remarks from others, and sometimes, violence in the home.
These experiences never lead to a good place for the Albanians to tell them.
People are afraid to even go to a therapist. It is embarrassing to the family. Oftentimes, if one tries to explain to another, that person will go and tell another – creating a vicious cycle of attack.
This makes us hush. – Kjo na bën të heshtim.
This makes us not speak up. – Kjo na bën të mos flasim.
This is why we are afraid. – Për këtë ne jemi të frikësuar.
There has never been a place where women and men can come together and say, this happened to me too. You are not alone. We are here. We are normal. I believe you. Të besoj.
This article will be our start. On this platform, we will tell our stories. You may comment on your story, read through others’, relate, and most importantly- know you are not alone. Ne te besojme. You may post any time you have felt uncomfortable with yourselves because of what others have said or done to you. You don’t even have to be Albanian or a female. This is a space for EVERYONE.
If you are not comfortable writing your story that is okay but we hope that some of you who are comfortable enough will have the courage to speak up and make others feel heard as well as EDUCATE the boys and girls who are blinded to the occurrences. This is your story and it is valid. It starts with explaining to people that this is a burden and too much of a common issue in our culture to be silenced.
Special Thanks: Thank you Romina Bojaxhi for letting me and us as a whole Albanian Community use her platform to express ourselves.
Te gjithe kan frike qe vajzat e tyre mund te perdhunohen.Translation:
Pak druhen se djemte e tyre mund te jene perdhunes.
“Everyone is afraid that their daughters may be raped. Few fear that their sons may be rapists.”