Showing posts with label Albanian blood feud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albanian blood feud. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


IN ALBANIA  A sad and horryfying custom passed on to the succeeding generations for more than 500 years is still religiously practiced. This ancient custom advises the society that “blood must be paid with blood”. It means that if a person kills another one intentionally or accidentally, the victim’s family should avenge the killing, by killing any of the killer’s male relatives.

This practice has been incorporated in their 'Kanun Laws'. In Albania the kanun laws are followed for a variety of dealings such as transfer of property, marriage, everything pertaining to an individual’s life at Home and  society including criminal offenses.

But ‘blood feud' stands out from among all other stipulations in the law because of its cold-blooded nature and  the trauma and isolation that it brings to a family. The National Reconciliation Committee, an Albanian non-profit organization that works to eliminate the practice of blood feuds, estimates that 20,000 people have been ensnared by blood feuds since they resurfaced after the collapse of Communism in 1991, with 9,500 people killed and nearly 1,000 children deprived of schooling because they are locked indoors.

It is a curse for the entire family to be in the shadow of blood feud. It does not end with just one generation but extends to a period of actual execution of revenge. The male children have to sit inside their house all their life in isolation if the family is under the ‘feud’ as the victim’s relatives would be waiting outside the house for any male member of the family to come out. Those unfortunate children have no play no education and no ordinary life.

A person who has grown up enough to wield a gun is considered a target to set the score and as such children can go to school only up to 12 years old. Then they stay inside the home like a prisoner. No friends arrive to the home fearing an accidental gun shot.

Blood feuds were prevalent in other societies also like mafia vendettas in southern Italy and retaliatory violence between Shiite and Sunni families in Iraq. Appalachian bootleggers in the 19th century also took up arms to defend family honor. But it is more pronounced and stubborn in Albania.

This practice was outlawed during the communist rule and it had virtually disappeared from the society. But when the communist regime ended the practice started again.

Some of the men under the shadow of a feud escaped to foreign countries but even then some of them were hunted down and killed. The person would not feel secure any where in the world. The sound of a door bell would jolt him like death knell.

The system deprives the entire family a social life. It is not possible to go out for work and without a working male member in the family, poverty may set in. Most of the killing occurs on property disputes and like anywhere in the world murders occur on silly matters also. Any way the end result is isolation. Some of the families in isolation seek the help of a mediator. But it seldom succeeds. Most cases prefer revenge so as to preserve the family honor.

Nowadays Contract killers are also engaged to do the ‘work’

It is possible to end a feud between two families if all the male members agree to it. but it is found practically difficult since people are of different nature and a settlement also takes time. There are attempts to eliminate this vicious custom by NGOs. Let us hope, in course of time it would be possible.  After all  Albania is the birth place of Mother Teresa, an embodiment of love and mercy and it is ironical that people in her birth place  should nurse such vicious grudge among themselves.

Why the modern Albania could not eradicate the evil system ?

It is the failure of the penal  and judicial system. As a first step the Government should review Gun-license and massive campaign against feud should begin. The Government should  also deal the feud cases sternly and give the offenders capital punishment. If ones own life is in danger the honor killing will cease, at least gradually. All European nations should urge Albania in this respect.

.Images: Google