The front page of this week's paper Die Zeit features an article called 'Please re-think' ('Bitte Umdenken'), which advocates for loosening asylum qualifications for Albanian women. I can't find a link to it just yet. The author, Elisabeth Raether, states: 'Domestic violence has only been a crime [in Albania] for 3 years' ('Erst seit drei Jahren ist häusliche Gewalt eine Straftat').
This is incorrect in two ways. First, because Albania has had a specific law addressing domestic violence for eight years. Second, because even before this law, Albania had laws against assault which could be applied to domestic violence.
Error No. 1: According to the NGO Advocates for Human Rights, Albania has had a specific law on domestic violence since 2007:
The Law on Measures Against Violence in Family Relations (entered into force 1 June 2007) was designed to prevent and reduce domestic violence, and to guarantee victims’ protection. Several Albanian women’s non-governmental organizations had presented the draft law to Parliament in 2006 through a citizens’ petition of over 20,000 signatures. The law defined domestic violence as “any act of violence … committed between persons who are or used to be in a family relation,” violence being “any act or omission of one person against another, resulting in violation of the physical, moral, psychological, sexual, social and economic integrity.”
Error No. 2: The article states that domestic violence was not a crime in Albania before this law. This is also wrong. Like any modern nation-state, Albania has had laws against assault for decades. From the same article linked above:
Domestic violence can be prosecuted under the general crime of assault in the Criminal Code. Serious intentional injury is punishable under Article 88 by three to ten years of imprisonment. Non-serious intentional injury is punishable under Article 89 by a fine or up to two years of imprisonment. Under Article 90, other intentional harm is punishable by a fine or up to six months of imprisonment. Interruption of pregnancy without the woman’s consent is punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison under Article 93. Under Article 284 of the Criminal Procedure Code, crimes of non-serious intentional injury, including rape and sexual harassment, can be prosecuted only when the victim files a complaint. The Counseling Center for Women and Girls is a resource for victims of domestic or other kinds of violence. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) created a handbook (must be a registered OSCE user; follow links to document in English or Albanian) with Frequently Asked Questions for Albanian women who are victims of domestic violence.
I will reach out to the author and editors about this. They've added corrections before, I'm hoping they'll do so again. It's not very reassuring to have factual mistakes printed on the first page of a newspaper. However, it seems the better long-term solution would be to hire fact-checkers, no?
I have other problems with this piece, but I'll save those for another post.