UNICEF in Action to Stop Sexual Abuse of Children in Albania

UNICEF Albania has launched the campaign #TëBesoj in Tirana, in a unique manner. To kick off the campaign, UNICEF organized on Tuesday a silent event, where an installation of children silhouettes, each bearing a real story of sexual abuse is placed at the Skanderbeg Square, said a press release issued by the UNICEF press office in Tirana on Tuesday.
“I was 11 years old when… …I was sexually abused. Today, I am afraid of not being a virgin and of the issues I will have to face because of it. It took me 8 years to share this to someone… even to this day, I have not told anyone”.
“I was 12 years old...when a much older man sexually abused me, and ever since, I have been dealing with sexuality issues. It took me 12 years to finally talk about it to someone”.
These are just two of Albania's many stories of sexual abuse of children displayed in the installation, as the real proof that Sexual Abuse of Children is adamant and tough action needs to be taken. It is a very widespread phenomenon and affects far more children than we realize.  The recent exposed cases in the eyes of the public are just the tip of the iceberg.  According to the Albanian police, 60% of all sexual abuse cases in Albania are committed against children. In the past 10 years, an average of 15 cases of child sexual abuse have been processed every year. In most cases the abuser is in the circle of trust of the child and in 1/3rd of the cases the abuser is a family member (Medialook Report, 2019). One in ten children reported at least one unwanted sexual experience through the internet mostly initiated by someone the child already knew.
In order to address this phenomenon and to put an end to the Sexual Abuse in the country, UNICEF Albania has welcomed the EU Ambassador to Albania, Luigi Soreca, the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection, Bardhylka Kospiri and the Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Anuela Ristani.
“With this campaign we want to break the silence around sexual abuse and exploitation of children who need answers! If they were here today, they would ask us take action to stop Sexual Abuse. They need to start trusting us, and we need to start believing them” said in his opening remarks Dr. Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
"The fight against child sexual abuse is a priority for the European Union. To this end, we have launched the EU strategy for a comprehensive response to the growing threat of child sexual abuse both offline and online, by improving prevention, investigation, and assistance to victims. Everyone should play its role to stop child sexual abuse, and the competent public authorities should allocate adequate resources. Let's work all together to empower children and young people to report and communicate. The EU will continue to support child protection in Albania," Ambassador Luigi Soreca, Head of EU Delegation, said.

The installation will remain at the Skanderbeg Square for 2 weeks and then will move to other parts of Tirana as well as will travel to the major cities of Albania. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation; foster a culture of speaking up about the phenomenon; encourage authorities to urgently prioritize policies and actions.  The collection of stories was made possible with the great support and collaboration of Nisma ARSIS, Foundation Together Albania and National Child Helpline Alo 116.