Elona Prroj*: Blood feud and education of children affected by it in the town of Shkodra


This study sets out the results of a quality observation done in the town of Shkoder, the biggest town in the north of Albania. It aims to present and identify the influence of the blood feud phenomenon in the education of children that are part of the families imprisoned in the house. For this purpose of the study, there are a selected group of families that live in Shkoder but are mainly from the North, where this phenomenon is still strong. The main objective of the study is to give a better view of the actual educational conditions of children of these families and also to identify the factors that influence their education. The techniques used are the questionnaire or the survey containing 32 questions organized in different rubrics. Some are closed question with 2 choices and some are open question to take as much information as we can from the interviewed women. The survey is conducted with 20 women of these families who responded directly to the questions put to them by the interviewer. We have chosen to interview 40 families, but only 20 of them were ready to answer because the interviews were done through the phone. All together these families have 59 children. It was not difficult to choose the target group because of the early contacts I have with them through my work. This made it easy the gathering of information because of the trusting relationships already built. This study show that this phenomenon makes the lives of these children more stressed, more anxious and more insecure, and it influences directly in the quality and in the continuing of education of these children. Blood revenge causes these families to live with great fear for their children's lives and not having hope for the future. There are a number of factors that are an influence on the situation they are going through. We have been able, through the statements, discussions and the different opinions, to record a number of these factors.

Keywords: Children, blood feud, education, Northern Albania, factors, prisoners, migration.


During the long transition of over two decades in Albania, from the fall of the Communist Regime to democracy, we have been witnessing many steps forward and many changes coming closer to the standard of the European countries. These positive steps have been accompanied with some other backward steps in some areas in the move towards progress, such as the resurgence of illiteracy, high unemployment, increased crime, violent use of firearms in a section of society, urban chaos, inappropriate choice of establishments, random intervention of man on the environment, numerous conflicts of ownership, security and public order easily destabilized, and corrupt segments of the State etc..
One of these negative steps is also the returning of the blood revenge. It may seem an unusual phenomenon in a country that has join NATO in 2009 and has positioning itself as an official candidate for the European Union membership. But in Albania the forces of tradition and modernity exert equal pull. The code, or canon in Albanian, dates to the 15th century and has long served as a guide for social conduct, governing everything, from how to treat strangers and arrange marriages to how to pay taxes and settle properties disputes. And the dark side of it is that sets out a brutal law: Blood must be paid forth with blood. The origin of this law is based on the Old Testament scripture that says: “An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth” Strict rules always have governed that precept, namely that only the killer could be targeted in a blood feud. As applied today, however, the family members of the killer, included women and children, are also targeted, and this can go wide in about 6 generations and can go on forever if someone will not have the courage to forgive first.
 It is a global phenomenon, and it is part of the past and the history of many countries, but in Albania it continues to be a wild and deadly phenomenon for all the communities that are involved in this mentality and in this cycle without an exit way.
Collins English Dictionary defines blood feud as a conflict in which the members of hostile families or clans murder each other. Families in hostility with each other are under heavy social, economical and cultural pressure, causing them and their community strong deficiencies that are difficult to be recovered during all their life. Even though blood feud is a patriarchal phenomenon as it aims to deal with men alone, it damages all the family; keeping inside the house’ walls all the men and also the male children and leaving the women to have outside the house the two roles of husband and wife. The deformation of the Canon of Lek Dukagjini from which northern Albanians learned self justice and the revenge formula, has degraded to the killing of children, women and clerics, something the canon strongly forbids.
This study aims to provide a modest contribution towards recognizing the relation between this phenomenon and education of a particular category of children, those that suffer the consequences of their family being imprisoned in their homes due to being in blood feud. If the men go out, they are threatening to be killed even though they have done nothing. We will not focus on this phenomenon, but on the influence that it has on the education of children of the families that are involved.
Regardless of their number, they represent a segment of the category mentioned above. This subgroup is distinctive in that they are completely separated, in the fullest sense of the word, from their birthplace, in an attempt to escape a family feud, and are "concealed" somewhere near the Shkoder, to be out of reach of their "enemy".
But do you think that maybe being part of the families who experience this dramatic situation, causes these children also to become invisible to society?
How do parents and children see the need of education?
How has changed the experience of education with the changing of their situation?
How does the economic situation and the social status of the parents influent in the decision making for the education of these children?
The research and answers to these questions are not easy, moreover we cannot pretend that it is exhausted, but we are convinced that we have made an attempt, through a relatively long process of fieldwork and research, using scientific techniques, to approach a painful reality that must change.

Chapter 1

          A short history

Among the many problems facing our country in this long and difficult post-communist era, is that of blood feuds. Blood revenge in an old phenomenon, not only a Balkan problem, but a universal one, based on ancient traditional laws. But whereas these ancient laws, and blood revenge, were forgotten by many European people, Albanians have coexisted alongside both of these and have more recently moved on into the justice of the state.
The historical data, ethnic studies, various testimonies of the native people, and foreigners who have visited Albania before the beginning of the twentieth century, speak openly about the extent that this social plague affected things, especially in the northern parts of Albania. In the period of King Zog, there was a reduction in this type of crime compared with the previous period, but again the situation was worrying. The Penal Code of 1929 prohibited blood revenge and killing was legally condemned. This was indicated in the drop in numbers of killings. However, about 46% of the 1,652 murders nationwide in the years 1930-1938, were carried out in revenge. Although the number of homicides in general and those committed in revenge in 1938, compared with those in 1930, was in decline by 2.1 and 2.5 times respectively, there again the killings in revenge at the end of the King Zog period accounted for 41% of total homicides. It is recorded that 33% of killings nationally, committed in revenge during the years 1930-1938, were within the local authority of Shkoder. During the years of the Second World War, there was the beginning of a positive turning point, but in the post-war years things deteriorated. Only 291 cases of killings in revenge were recorded during the war. After the war, due to social and economic change, the increase in the level of the population's education, and the greater repressive power of the State, (including the implementation of the death penalty and the internment of warring families), as the years passed, blood revenge crime figures declined. The sanction of the Constitution, of its codes and of a series of laws, the establishing of public order throughout the land, the increase in the rate of educational and cultural development, the certifying as hostile the actions associated with the Canon Law and the propaganda against it, the general implementation of the death penalty for the perpetrators of the killings, would be effective in speedily reducing the occurrence of actions committed associated with the Canon Law, and in the reduction of killings in revenge. So whereas, during the years 1946- 1950,these killings accounted for 17% of the total homicides, this figure drops to 13.5% during the years 1951-1955, and is much lower from the year 1956 until 1982. After then until 1990 this figure was zero. It was thought that this phenomenon belonged to the history of the past. Unfortunately it was not so.

More in: Revista Haemus

PHD Candidate in EUT, Director in “No Blood Feud, Yes to Life Foundation”, Tirana, Albania. Biography: Elona Prroj finished her master degree in counseling and is a PHD candidate in psychology. Since 2010 she is working with the families that suffer from blood feud in the north of Albania and is doing different researches about this phenomenon trying to find the factors that keep this phenomenon alive in the 21 century and which are the ways to stop it. Since 2012 she is the vice secretary of Evangelical Alliance Albania. From 2014 she is an advisor in Word Vision. Also she is the Leader of Word of Christ Foundation in Shkodër.

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