In my small and beautiful Kosovo, I would change the mindset, the mindset that abuses and imprisons women. Not only would I change it, but I would root it out.
Kosovo, now 14, faces many problems of economic, political and educational natures. These are problems that can be solved with the right commitment. But what most wears us down is the patriarchal mindset. And that’s why we have to change it if we want other chains to be broken.
With this patriarchal way of thinking, it is not clear what this society actually wants. On the one hand, they rely on the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini when they say that “an Albanian woman is not entitled to inheritance from her parents, not even at home, the Kanun considers women as surplus.” On the other hand, the same woman who supposedly does not belong to the family is expected to carry on her shoulders all the “honor” of that house.
It is expected of women and girls to act like robots that only respond to commands and that are not allowed to act freely. To be born a girl in this country means you will develop with a heavy burden on your back and will be forced to meet rigid expectations during your life.
Society is always watching you. It is with you while you choose your wardrobe and while you’re walking. It is watching your tone, your appearance, how you act in your workplace and during all other daily activities.
It is exhausting.
“Shut your mouth, it is a shame, you’re a woman.”
If someone asked me, “Is it easier to go to the sun or be a woman?” My answer would be “to go to the sun.”
On a daily basis, we hear cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment of girls and women. And according to our judges, both literally in the judicial sense and figuratively throughout society, it is the women, the victims, who are somehow to blame for this. Some say the way a woman dresses is an invitation for sexual harassment and others say girls deserve a violent response if they simply talk too much.
This rhetoric is seen everywhere, from daily conversations and the media to statements from our institutions. People don’t hesitate to respond in solidarity when a man is bullied, but fails to apply the same standard when a woman is bullied, harassed, attacked or even raped.
Not only is there little support or solidarity, often in Kosovo the opposite happens. There is discrimination against the victim, a shifting of guilt from the perpetrator to the victim, contempt shown for the victim –– in short, more time is given to blaming the victim than the perpetrator.
And these, along with cases of rape, abuse and exclusion are accepted as innate and part of the “old mindset.” It is not the fault of some distant “old mindset” but the current one, which is constantly reinforced through subtle rules, commands and restrictions on how women must behave.