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Liljana, the teacher of the locked children

Gjakmarrja is a part of the ancient law of Kanun, a medieval law that ruled Albanian territory for many years.

According to this anyone who commits a murder has to pay for it. The family who suffered the loss is meant to take back its honor by killing anyone of the male members of the family of the offender.

After the fall of the communist regime this old costume came back in vogue. Liljana Luani is a teacher at the Pasko Vasa elementary school of Shkoder.
Since many years she goes weekly to visit and teach school lessons to kids who lives under the threat of the Gjakmarrja.

Gjakmarrja means revenge and is part of the medieval law still in force in some areas of Albania.
Families involved in Gjakmarrja live locked at home for fear to be killed.
The old law says in fact that the revenge can be token on anyone of the male members of the rival family.

Because of ignorance and fear this leads to the situation that whole families don’t leave from home ever.
Liljana thinks that this old costumes can end only through education and this is why she decided to start visiting families of the area surrounding Shkoder to do school to the children of the locked families.

At the beginning it was very difficult to gain the respect of the families says Liljana, she had to show up with her son, as she as a woman, could not relate with men of the families to ask their permission to come and teach to their children. So was her son to give the parole for her and grant for her.

Liljana, within the years, understood also the importance of helping women to emancipate themselves. Especially in the rural areas of Albania women are still relegated to the role of housewife. Also if they are not meant to be target of the revenge women normally don’t move from home.

In 2015 Liljana, after many efforts succeeded in creating a “women center” where to take women of families involved in Gjakmarrja to teach them a work but mostly to take them outside the family house. She thinks that not only women can become more independent but they can also bring back home different perspectives as to help to end the culture of the revenge .

©Alessandro Rampazzo 2015