Tradition keeps Kosovo’s war widows in black

Majlinda Aliu

The war in Kosovo in the late 1990s left a large number of women, some very young, as widows.

In one village alone there are as many as 50. But what options are open to these women in black? Remarriage is not one. Those who insult society’s traditionalist expectations of widows pay a high price in terms of social exclusion. Men who have lost their wives, on the other hand, face so such stigmas if they remarry.

Opening with the village of Krusa, home to some 50 war widows, the story paints a picture of a society that has strict expectations of the conduct of a war widow.

The story seeks to understand why this is so, and what the fate is of women who defy this moral code? We meet a woman who has tried to break away and found out what cost she has paid in terms of access to her family and children.

At the same time, the story explores the very different set of rules that apply to men who remarried following the death/murder of their wives. What are the reasons for this double set of rules, and what are consequences?

Why is it that the law, which in Kosovo is liberal and progressive, in reality is not applied? Will the widows of Kosovo ever feel empowered enough to demand more freedom?

Fellow Bio

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Majlinda Aliu

Majlinda Aliu is a Pristina-based journalist working for Radio Television Kosovo, reporting on political and social affairs. She previously worked for Koha Vision TV, also in Pristina

Fellowship Article

War widows throughout Europe may have shared a common fate, but their subsequent life experiences - from socially conservative Kosovo to liberal England- are radically different.

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