Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Forum “I Choose to Live without Violence”

Minister Klosi, Dean Duka, Director Leskaj, Director Lurasi, Director Arqimandriti, talented video journalist Rusi, dear students and professors,

Domestic violence is not something that happens to other people.  It is something that happens all around us.

Take a moment now.  Look to your right, then to your left.  Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.  Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.

Stopping domestic violence is a responsibility shared by all of us – both men and women.  Without the active education and involvement of men and boys, women and girls, we will never make progress on this issue.

One of the ways young people can fight against domestic violence is to learn about respecting each other.  Who taught you about respect?  Was it your parents?  A teacher?  A brother or sister?  A friend?

When I was a student, I learned about respect from a friend of mine who took me to a march where students protested against violence in our university.  I remember being 18 years old and hearing the stories of brave young women who talked about being physically assaulted and how they would never again allow themselves to be hurt.  It taught me respect for these courageous voices who were not afraid to speak loudly and clearly against violence.

Albania has it’s own courageous voices.  I want to recognize the sacrifice and courage of the people who support NGOs working to end domestic violence: the Albanian Women’s Empowerment Network, the Counselling Center for Women and Girls and the Gender Alliance for Development Center.

Lastly, I want to thank Erjona Rusi the terrific video she produced on stopping violence and Dean Duka for hosting us today.

I choose to live without violence.  I choose to respect women.  I choose to respect men.  I choose to help others learn what respect means.  I hope you will join me.