Personal stories and lively debate on early marriage in Mitrovica Roma Mahala

6 May 2022

Personal stories and lively debate on early marriage in Mitrovica Roma Mahala

“The practice of early marriages must stop now and for good,” said Sadete Nana Gashiani, a human rights activist and community leader in Mitrovica Roma Mahala.

She was addressing young girls and boys from Kosovo’s Roma communities who attended the screening of UNMIK produced films “Romni” and “Like a Real Woman” at the Learning Center in Roma Mahala in South Mitrovica.

The films cover the tradition, expectations, and ultimately the hope and resoluteness of an individual to take destiny into her own hands, tackling, among the other things, the issue of early marriage affecting the lives of both young girls and boys, within and beyond the Roma community.


“Our parents, perhaps, have not managed to achieve some things and make their lives better, but we certainly can, and pursuing education is one of the best ways forward,” Nana added, urging the young audience to give the film due consideration and then engage in discussions on the subject.

Inspired by the film and its messaging, Bujar Gara from Community Building Mitrovica, concurred with Nana. “Once we are empowered through education and aware of our rights, we will be capable of deciding on our own and take our lives into our hands,” said Bujar.

The young audience also held forth on issues that otherwise remain largely unaddressed. A young girl said she wishes “this obsolete practice be forbidden, and young girls be allowed to complete education and live their lives as they chose or desire”.

Taking a cue from Nana’s point, there was a lively debate on the role parents can and have played in both perpetuating the practice, as well as facilitating much needed change.

The discussions were a mix of informative and interpersonal anecdotes. There were stories of hope and resilience, echoing some in the film and serve as an inspiration for many. As Bujar put it, “Change must come within us.”