Child marriage is a violation of human rights that adversely affects education, health and wellbeing of boys and girls and perpetuates the cycles of poverty and inequality. The Observatory is the first entity in Albania that has raised the issue of child marriage and it has undertaken four years of intensive engagement in exploring and raising public awareness of the practise.
The approach to this matter has started in January 2015, when Observatory, supported by Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), started a project on Child Marriage in Albania focusing on Roma community in three selected areas: Shkoza, Tufina and Liqeni. This study intended to point out the phenomenon of Early Child Marriages in Roma community, as well as the actors which contribute to this phenomenon and the effects that these marriages bring. For more refer to the study report available at: http://observator.org.al/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-Child_marriage_in_Albania.pdf.
The first initiative, brought a public reaction pointing out that this situation was not only happening in Roma community, but also in rural areas, so it was followed by a second one, with the support of CFLI, piloted in Korca and Vlora. This second initiative aimed at analysing Demographic Characteristics, Family Background Characteristics, Characteristics of Educational Background, Family Life, Social and Economic Status of Women in Early Marriage, as well as the Reasons for Early Marriage. The study report may be accessed at: http://observator.org.al/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ZEB_Studimi_en_12Feb2016.pdf.
Since the only legal way to enter an Underage marriage is the Court, the third initiative analyses the legal and social aspects of underage marriage in Albania. This initiative, realized in collaboration with CFLI, has resulted in two study reports focusing on identifying and analysing the judicial practices with subject ‘the requests to enter into underage marriage’ and how “underage marriage” has affected the social and family life of the juveniles. The study reports are available at: http://observator.org.al/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Report2-Legal-social-analyze-underage-marriage_June2018.pdf and http://observator.org.al/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Early-marriage-report-english.pdf.
These studies revealed important information about the practice of child marriage in Albania, and the social groups that it predominantly affects. The studies also explored some of the reasons why people support the practice. But, the need to provide a triangulated in-depth look around child marriage, and to explore the social norms supporting/impeding the practice still were unaddressed.
Under the attention of Ministry of Health and Social Protection, in close cooperation with UNICEF and UNFPA in Albania, and with the financial support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, on 14th December 2018, was launched the report “Child Marriage- Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions among affected communities in Albania”. This qualitative study was commissioned to collect data on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions, social expectations, incentives, sanctions and norms relating to child marriage in Albania. The study, conducted between the autumn of 2017 and early summer of 2018, focused primarily on Roma and/or poor rural populations where the phenomenon seemed to be more prevalent. Findings and recommendations will better guide mainstreaming of child marriage issues into the country strategies and programmes of government and non-governmental stakeholders, as well as UN agencies. The findings will help stakeholders to understand the issue of child marriage better and build common ground to take action. The study report is available at: http://observator.org.al/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Child-marriage-Report-Final-vesion.pdf.