Oppression of women
In northern Albania in particular, women suffer from oppression and discrimination. Because there the Kanun applies. This is a code of conduct that is very old and dates back to the times of the Ottoman Empire. In addition to traditions such as blood revenge, the Kanun stipulates that the woman is the property of the man.
It even goes so far that the man can beat his wife and, in particularly bad cases, kill him. Women are not allowed to visit cafes or restaurants without their husbands, they get poorer education or no education at all and have to do heavy physical work for the men. According to the Kanun, field work is also the task of women together with the household.
Many women suffer from it, but there is nothing they can do about it, because the law in some remote villages in Northern Albania allows this treatment for women. After all, it is now a criminal offense in Albania for men to beat their wives at home. Before that, many were of the opinion that the man could do whatever he wanted with his wife in his house.
Unfortunately, the effect of this law is not as great as hoped, because many women do not dare to file charges against their own husbands. Even if a woman has the courage to report her husband or even file a divorce, she is not necessarily better off. Because single women in Albania are often socially rejected and are considered outsiders.
Better a son than a daughter
In some countries of the world, such as China or India, the birth of a son is considered to be worth more than that of a daughter. It is the same in Albania. According to many Albanians, a son can take on the role of head of the family, while a daughter has to be married off and is more of a burden. Statistics show that more boys than girls are actually born in Albania.
A pregnancy with a girl can be interrupted. This is also illegal in Albania, so it does not comply with the law, but it is still used in everyday life. In the meantime, however, there are groups that are trying to counteract this and, for example, forbid the doctor to provide information about the child’s gender.
Discrimination against the Roma
The Roma are an ethnic group. As in all the countries in which they live, they are also a minority in Albania. A large number of them, 80 out of 100 Roma, live there in great poverty and on the margins of society. They suffer from contempt at work and at school. Many Roma cannot find a job and are unemployed. So they are driven further and further into poverty. Many children do not even go to school and if they do, they are marginalized.
Because many Roma children are very poor and have no access to, for example, clean, running water and no money for new clothes, they are laughed at and teased by their classmates. This is why some Roma children are so afraid of school that they prefer to work rather than attend classes. As a result, they have no access to education and become poor again.
This creates a vicious circle and many Roma in Albania are doing very badly. Some therefore flee to EU countries. What is particularly bad for the Roma is that judges and police officers also treat them unfairly and discriminate against them, so that they are hardly able to change anything in their dire situation on their own.
The poor house of Europe
If you have already read the section on the history of Albania, you may know that Albania was governed by communists for a long time and the economy functioned as a planned economy. After this system collapsed, the market economy followed. But the economic damage was not so easy to repair. Many people lost their jobs and their savings. When many people from Kosovo fled to Albania seeking help in the 1990s, the country was overwhelmed by that.
Children and young people in particular suffer from national poverty. Also in many European countries outside of Albania there are Albanian child slaves who beg, steal and even sell themselves just to survive. Albania is considered one of the poorest countries in Europe and is sometimes referred to as the “poor house of Europe”.
What is typical for Albania: A holy mountain
The Tomorr is a 2415 meter high mountain in the south of Albania. For many people in Albania it is not just a mountain, but also a very sacred place. Because on the southern tip of Tomorr lies the grave of a relative of the Prophet Mohammed named Abbas Ali. This grave is a pilgrimage site of the Bektashi, an order of the Alevis.
The Tomorr is a holy mountain in Albania
A pilgrimage site is a place of religious importance that believers visit. Towards the end of August, a festival of sacrifices lasting several days is celebrated at this pilgrimage site. But if you want to celebrate, you have to climb the mountain first. The ceremony itself then usually consists of the sacrifice of a sheep and a visit to the holy grave.
Bunker in Albania
According to zipcodesexplorer, anyone traveling to Albania will notice the many bunkers in the landscape. These emerged primarily between 1972 and 1984 when Albania was a communist dictatorship. During this time around 20,000 bunkers were built. At that time, the country was very afraid of an incursion by foreign troops and built the bunkers to be able to hide safely in Albania in the event of a war.
Today the bunkers are used for other purposes: Many are used for garbage disposal, some as stalls for livestock and some have been extensively converted and converted into a restaurant. Others are a shelter for poor families. A bunker was decorated with a cross and turned into a chapel. Most of them disintegrate, however.
Dispute over the remains of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is a Catholic saint. She lived from 1910 to 1997. She was a religious sister in India. She became known worldwide for helping poor and sick people. She was born in what is now North Macedonia. She had relatives on her mother’s side in Kosovo and others on her father’s side in Albania. Exactly these four countries (India, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania) are now fighting over the remains of Mother Teresa.
Albania declared the day of her beatification (October 19) a national holiday. Mother Teresa herself commented on her origins in a quote like this: “I am Albanian by blood, Indian by nationality, Catholic by faith, and I belong to the whole world.” She herself had expressed the wish to be buried in the monastery she founded in the Indian city of Calcutta, where she is still located today.