Tradition Denies Albanian Women Right to Property
Although Shpresa's husband is now behind bars, the plight of the woman from the Albanian town of Fushe Kruja continues, as now she has to fend off a civil lawsuit brought by her brother-in-law over the ownership of the house where she lives with her sons.
"Two days ago I was in a courthouse with them and my mother-in-law told me to leave my home, threatening that I will never enjoy her 'son's house'," she said.
Like Shpresa, many women in Albania not only face domestic violence but also struggle to assert their property rights.
Although Albanian laws guarantee women the right to property, experts warn that they are not always implemented, and together with the tradition that favours males in the inheritance of family property, a deep gap has been created between the numbers of women and men who own property in the country.
According to rights activists, this makes Albanian women economically dependent on their husbands, making it difficult to break off an unhappy or violent marriage and start a new life.
The property gender gap
Women in Tirana, 2017. Photo: Pxere
Despite the progress made in recent decades, the United Nations ranks Albania among the countries where women face inequality, a pay gap, gender-based violence, and discrimination in the labour market.
Data obtained by BIRN through Albania's freedom of information law shows that this inequality extends also to property rights. According to the National Cadastre Agency, based on the 43.6 per cent of the data that has been digitised, 19.1 per cent of private property is registered in the name of women and 80.9 per cent in the name of men.
"Ownership of immovable properties of the type [including] construction plots, agricultural...