To be a lesbian often means that you dont exist at all. You are a bad word, an offensive word, a character or fiction. To be a woman who loves women, or any woman without the right accesory (a man) to stand behind, often means that you live in fear.
In Kosovo (and most of other countries) Women are validated by their husbands. If a woman decides to live as she wants and wishes (let it be as a single woman or a lesbian woman) it means she is condemning herself to an endless battle for her integrity. It does not cross someones mind that a woman without a man could be a lesbian. Lesbians aren´t even lesbians here – they are single woman, and as a single woman encounter many forms of dicrimination. A single woman does not obey, the are the second choice for a job, since the married woman are the first choice. The married women are seen as thoose who have learned to obey and respect authority. Why take a chance on a single woman?
A single woman faces many difficulties. Starting with finding an decent apartment for herself; landlords will be suspicous of her morality. A single woman is put on shifts at work that no one else will take, beacuse she does not have any family obligations. A single woman should not be out alone and out late; there is no one to protect her to be harrased or raped on the streets. If she is an victim for violonce then she asked for it. What did she do alone on the streets late at night? A single woman is never thought to be single beacuse she decided to be that way. She is always seen as a poor, abandoned, crazy, unable to find a man, ugly, or unable to have children. Two woman living together might not be seen as a lesbian couple, but they will still be an object for their neighboors suspicions.
Social isolation is what many lesbians faces. Especially the lesbians living in small towns and villages. Being a single woman in Kosovo means being marked beacuse you dont fit into the pattern of ”woman of the nation”. The stigma attached to homosexuals can make it difficult for young lesbians to obtain an education. And also difficulties to advance in life (in all areas)
The economic situation in Kosovo is low and poor. Single people are often forced to live with their parents. To share space with silbings. Women in perticular are faced with this more often, beacuse they cannot afford to move out and become independed. Very few lesbians live alone or in couples. The income is usually not hight enough to cover the basic costs of living and they are depended on the good will of their parents. And this leads to that families feel they have the right to regulate the private life and all other things of their memebers. Many lesbians gets blackmailed, with the threat that their sexual orientation will be revealed for her family and relatives. And in cases it is revealed they loose the little financal support they gain from their families. Lesbians are seen as a disgrace and a threat to the families honor and prestige.
And what about healthcare? Many lesbians avoid to visit gynecologists beacuse they assume that all women are sexually active with men. Lesbians are often forced to lie. Which leads to diseases that will not be discovered in time or even at all.
I work at Center for social emancipation (QESh), which started in 2005 and got re-activated again at 2011. QESh works with LGBTQ issues but also with “Womens issues” We want to reach out to women. We want to reach out to men. We want to help the young girls and boys who faces not only discrimination, but also pshyichal and psycologial abuse. We want to change the family law, we want gynocologists to be professional, we want the police to handle gay-bashing in a serious and a respecting way. Even if I cant change peoples opinion and view over a day, or even in decedas, I can at least make sure that the protection exists. It is easier to be who you want to be if you know that you are at least protected by law. That you at least dont get beat up by the ones who are forced to protected you by law.
All steps, are big steps!