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18 April 2016

Evaluation (2013-2016) shows: Medica Gjakova in Kosovo offers survivors of sexualised violence comprehensive support

In Autumn 2015, medica mondiale commissioned two external consultants, Petra Scheuermann and Erinda Bllaca, to visit the women’s rights organisation Medica Gjakova and evaluate the project which had been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and medica mondiale. Women are provided with psychological and medical assistance, as well as support to claim their right to compensation and help to secure their own livelihood.

In the psychosocial groups led by Medica Gjakova, affected women can work through what has happened to them. Just the chance to meet other women who are also survivors is often enough to provide some healing. Speaking to the evaluators, one women from one of the groups reported: " ... I have changed. I have begun to dress sensibly again and I'm talking to people. For such a long time I had lost myself and my family." She also said her children were happy for her.

Petra Scheuermann and Erinda Bllaca attended some of the group meetings and write: "It is obvious how comfortable the women feel in the community formed by the other women and adviser. They have a very close connection with each other – whether they have told their (wartime) story or not. Just knowing they are among similar women is enough for them to feel safe and encouraged to participate."

Comprehensive support with one-to-one and group counselling, gynaecological treatment and income-generating measures

The women also receive assistance in the self-help groups, which are supported by Medica Gjakova. The groups visited by the two external consultants gave the impression of being well-functioning and dynamic social networks. The women meet together not only for the group meetings, but also socially, such as for an evening walk through the village. They can talk about their family life and everyday worries, help each other, and listen when one of their group decides to talk about the violence they experienced.

For survivors of sexualised and gender-specific violence, Medica Gjakova offers support in the form of group therapy and, on an individual-case basis, one-to-one counselling and free gynaecological treatment. In the near future, legal advice will also be available. Furthermore, the women in the self-help groups are assisted in their efforts to gain more economic independence. They are shown how to produce agricultural or crafts products for sale. And a cooperative is planned to help market these.

Successful implementation of right to compensation

Together with the human rights organisation KRCT (Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims), Medica Gjakova successfully contributed to the revised law on the rights of civilian war victims. For the first time, this also specifies the rights of those who were subjected to sexualised and gender-specific violence during the conflicts. They now have the right to compensation. The two evaluators report how this successful advocacy work by Medica Gjakova has earned it much recognition, both nationally and internationally.

Mastering future challenges in cooperation with other civil society organisations

In spite of the generally positive results in the evaluation, Petra Scheuermann and Erinda Bllaca also draw attention to the significant future challenges facing the organisation. For example, there is a need for closer cooperation with the affected municipalities and families. Many children are suffering because of the rapes suffered by their mothers, aunts or grandmothers. They need assistance and support, too.

Families and communities also need to be made aware of how they should provide support to rape victims rather than excluding them. The evaluators describe how this work is essential if all-embracing (family) healing is to succeed. However, this cannot be achieved by Medica Gjakova working alone. So the two evaluators suggest working together with other civil society organisations.

Recommendations in the evaluation to guarantee an integrated approach

Special attention also needs to be paid to the incomegenerating measures, report the evaluators. For example, there have been problems with both the production and the marketing via the cooperative. So the evaluators propose establishing a special department within Medica Gjakova to ensure better coordination and support for these measures. This department could concentrate on the issues of income generation.

In this way, the organisation as a whole can better guarantee its integrated approach of providing psychological, medical, legal and economic assistance to survivors of sexualised violence.

The evaluation report "Supporting survivors of sexualized women" (2013-2016) was released in english.

Related issues

Project evaluations at medica mondiale

Quality assurance at medica mondiale