Albania sets up the first center to support victims of sexual violence

December 6, 2018

Lilium Center in Tirana

Victims of sexual violence in Albania will now benefit from a One stop center which provides emergency services tailored for the needs of the victims. The center called “Lilium” is in a hospital setting and will serve the survivors through a multidisciplinary team consisting of legal practitioners, gynecologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, police officers, prosecutors, attorneys and nurses.

This team will attend to all medical needs of the survivors and is responsible for gathering forensic evidence according to the Criminal Procedure Code. The center will be accessible through 24/7.

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) is the custodian of the center and has made available one dedicated full-time center manager and 5 nurses on call.

On 21 November the Albanian National Council for gender equality approved the model for the functioning of the center and the necessary standards for services to be provided to the sexual violence survivors. This represents a significant step towards meeting the requirements of the Istanbul Convention which lays emphasis on providing this type of specialized support by urging the state parties to provide for the setting-up of accessible rape crisis or sexual violence referral centers.

Pursuant to these obligations and recent recommendations of the Monitoring Committee for Implementation of Istanbul Convention (GREVIO) for Albania and based on best practices MoHSP, supported by UNDP, led the process of improving the law on measures against violence in family relations. The law entered into force in August 2018. Among other improvements, the Domestic Violence law provides for the establishment of crisis management centers for cases of sexual violence to ensure the availability of emergency rooms in the hospitals where the victim is treated. Furthermore, these improved provisions foresee the development of the standards for the establishment and functioning of the crisis management centers.

Following this positive legal development, MoHSP set up a working group composed of legal, social, gender, and medical specialists with participation of relevant line ministries such as Ministry of Interior, State Police, Ministry of Justice as well as Tirana coordinated community response mechanism (CCR). This working group supported by UNDP developed the model of such a sexual violence referral center and the respective standards.

To expose Albanian authorities to the best practices of such centers, UNDP Albania in close partnership with UNDP Seoul Policy Center organized a study visit for the relevant Albanian authorities, to visit the Sunflower centers in South Korea. The South Korean model is considered one of the best models for providing specialized services to sexual violence victims. During the study visit, the Albanian authorities exchanged experiences with the staff working in these centers and benefitted from their consolidated knowhow.

 Driven by the needs for such specialized support services to sexual violence survivors, MoHSP took immediate action in allocating resources to set up adequate premises for the first “Lilium Center” that will serve sexual violence victims irrespective of gender, age and sexual orientation for the first 72 hours.  

Cross sectorial cooperation between the Center’s staff, State Police, CCRs and long-term support service providers including NGOs, is key for the success of this center. In addition, induction and continuous training of center staff and all related actors is very important for the sustainability of such a needed service.

This initiative is supported by the UNDP Seoul Policy Center and is implemented by UNDP in partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Protection.