By Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Albania Lacks Protection for Sexually Abused Children, The Economist Index Shows

Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation – a 40-country benchmarking index from the Intelligence Unit of “The Economist” has examined how countries are responding to the threat of sexual violence against children. Albania ranked in 26th place out of 40 countries that were analysed.

The index explores the environment in which the issue occurs and is addressed; the degree to which a country’s legal framework provide protections for children from sexual violence; whether government commitment and capacity is being deployed to equip institutions and personnel to respond appropriately; and the engagement of industry, civil society and media in efforts to tackle the problem.

The index provides information on Child Rights Centre in Albania (CRCA) and the Albanian National Child Helpline- ALO 116 111 as the two mechanisms that “provide guidelines for reporting on the neglect and abuse of children”. The rating is divided into two parts: the progress areas and the observed shortcomings. The report highlights that Albania has made an effort to create an effective legal framework to combat sexual abuse against children and has adopted all international conventions.

Whilst the State Police and the General Prosecutor’s Office, as well as other institutions such as the Ministry of Justice and the state prisons, keep records on the number of recorded child sexual abuse offences, the Institute of Statistics collects this data but it does not specify which crimes pertain to children.

Among the shortcomings that the report raised about Albania, one in particular was the lack of protection for sexually abused children as well as shortcomings for the protection of children online. Albania received a very low score for not collecting detailed data on sexual violence in children, as well as the low involvement of media in this process. The index also considers it problematic not to regulate legislation regarding the purchase of sexual services by juveniles as whilst Article 113 of the Criminal Code, prohibits prostitution, it does not specifically mention children as sex workers meaning that purchasing sexual services from minors is not covered by law.

The report also highlights the fact that Albania doesn’t offer programs for preventing and treating the offenders of sexual crimes. It notes that the country does not currently have a support system in place to prevent prospective offenders or reoffenders from committing sexual violence against children.

According to the BECAN study, almost 12% of children and teenagers in Albania are victims of sexual harassment and about 5% of them are victims of sexual abuse.