A woman was making her usual trip to her office in the center of Prishtina after lunch break when a man in his twenties turned up in front of her with a bicycle and said: “I’ll eat your breast.” She left horrified, almost running.
This is only one of 70 new sexual harassment cases reported this year through the “EcShlire” mobile application. Four hundred such reports have been made through the app since February 2016, when it was first launched. The highest number of sexual harassment cases was reported in Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina.
Translated to English, Serbian, Spanish and Hebrew, “EcShlire” is a project that was established as a result of cooperation between the Kosovo Women’s Network, Girls Coding Kosova and Open Data Kosovo. As a reporting platform, it has reached around 99 percent expansion among Kosovar users. Reports have also been submitted in Albania.
Sexual comments, stalking, pestering and whistling are just some of the forms of sexual harassment that have been reported thus far. In total, there are 11 categories of harassment which you can select in this Android app. Such harassments have occurred continuously in public spaces including schools, roads, universities, coffee shops or night clubs, workplaces, public transport etc.
In a monitoring report conducted by “EcShlire” representatives, it was stated that over 55 percent of sexual harassment is committed by strangers. This year there has been a surge in the number of reports of cases in which the perpetrators were professors or teachers.
According to this report, which has been obtained by K2.0, in around 2 percent of sexual harassment reports (400 cases in total) victims have stated that they were harassed by professors/teachers. Meanwhile, 6 percent of victims have stated that they were harassed by employers.
When this project was established, it was initially thought of as an app which would be used to gather data about sexual harassment. Subsequently this data was to be used to initiate projects as preventive measures against the phenomenon. Currently, “EcShlire” founders are attempting to push forward this project by offering the app to state institutions.
Zana Idrizi, project coordinator, says that the reports submitted through this app are concerning. She says that attempts are being made to cooperate with the Kosovo Police in dealing with them. Idrizi highlights that the number of reports is at a concerning level. The number of stalking cases in particular is what has encouraged them to push the project further.
Idrizi believes that security institutions must be involved at this point, so that the necessary means are taken. They are currently in contact with the Kosovo Police and believe that by the end of the year they will achieve concrete results.
“With the app being downloaded by more than 900 people, it seems the attention of the Police has been attracted,” she tells K2.0. However, on the Police force’s part Idrizi has noted a lack of willingness for expanding this cooperation and using the app to tackle sexual harassment.
However, law enforcement institutions face difficulties in utilizing these reports since they are submitted anonymously.
“Seeing this, we have thought about adding an extra option in the app so that we can further our cooperation with the Police and enable them to react. However, up until now this idea has been met with hesitation by law enforcement institutions,” said Idrizi.
K2.0 contacted the Information Office of the Kosovo Police to ask about the reason behind their lack of cooperation with “EcShlire”, but received no response.
The lack of institutional willingness to institutionalize the platform has been notable in other instances as well, according to Idrizi. She said that the organization suggested that information sessions be held in schools to teach students about how the app functions. Workshops for raising awareness were also suggested. However, this initiative was not concretely supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
The “EcShlire” app was established as a result of the renowned global campaign “Take Back The Night”, which was developed in 2015 and highlighted the level of sexual harassment in Kosovo streets.K
Feature image: Majlinda Hoxha / K2.0.