Kosovo’s Legal Framework is Overcharged with a Female President

President Jahjaga - result of a successful gender approach?PRISTINA, KOSOVO – After all this time with international presence and influence, EULEX, UNMIK, USA, “EU integration process” and “further more” – of course Kosovo is said to have created a modern western style legal framework of laws for its country and its population. Nevertheless, lately upcoming reports about an inadequate handling e.g. of family law cases by Kosovan courts help reminding, that an abstract legal construction is different from its practical implementation. However, by law female and male are equipped with the same rights – and discrimination in regard of gender even harms the constitution.

This to mentions is important for a society with often anachronistic patriarchal structures. Further more the election of Atifete Jahjaga as the first female President of the republic seems to emphasize a successful gender approach. Unfortunately it also gives reason to consider an opposite tendency.

These doubts are apart from considerations about the reason why US ambassador Dell has chosen the young, politically unknown 36-years old Atifete Jahjaga for the post of the Kosovan presidency – and why the three experienced heads of the ruling political parties have accepted this choice. The issue is more concrete:

In a recently published press article the lawyer Arsim Bajrami, with a touch of intended subtle irony, complained a disadvantaged treatment of male within the relevant laws for the presidency of Kosovo. Both the “Law on the President” and the “Law on State Protocol” deny equal rights for male Female President and 'non-defined' husband.compared to female spouses. "These laws need to be changed," Bajrami requests, as to the fact that they are missing a male definition of a “First Lady”.

The “Law on the President” specifies that the “First Lady of the Republic of Kosovo is the wife of the President”. Also the “Law on State Protocol” specifies in detail the ceremonial and protocol functions of the “First Lady”: "The wife of the President of the Republic enjoys the status of the First Lady of the country". Concrete instructions foresee that in  ceremonies alone with the President , the First Lady should stand on his right side. In honor ceremonies, when it comes to the state anthems, the “First Lady” of Kosovo stands along with the hosting “First Lady”, “three steps behind the two presidents.” And so on! Corresponding to this, lawyer Bajrami requests to change the applicable laws by adding the definition and duties of a “First Gentlemen”.

Change is needed – at least to fulfill constitutional requests. But the need for this particular change is not a symptom for discrimination of male: in contrary, defining a “First Lady” by law instead of using e.g. the neutral term of a spouse or partner reveals the opposite: The obviously ongoing ignorance against discrimination of female. The possibility once to have a female President – even in their deepest dreams – never reached the provincial minds of the lawmakers and their advisors, neither within the Parliament of Kosovo nor at the relevant departments of the Kosovan government. – Opinion piece by  Augustina Thaci and Korrik Sofalia.

This article was first published on Technorati.


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