Serbia's Non-Governmental Organizations Women in Black (Zene u crnom) and the Autonomous Women's Centre (Autonomni zenski centar) stood silently on the Republic Square in Belgrade Thursday, on the occasion of June 19 - the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in War honouring the women of the east Bosnian town of Foca, but also other women in Croatia, Kosovo and the rest of Bosnia who were raped and sexually harassed during wars in the 90s.
“During the wars in the former Yugoslavia, members of Serb armed formations systematically sexually abused non-Serb women in Croatia, BiH and Kosovo. Over twenty thousand women were raped in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most numerous victims were Bosniaks, while the majority of perpetrators were Bosnian Serbs. During the war in BiH (1992-1995), Foca was the site of the most massive systematic sexual violence and rape. In its verdict against the Foca Troika (Kunarac, Kovac, Vukovic) in 2001, for the first time in the history of international humanitarian law, the Hague Tribunal determined that sexual slavery in war is a crime against humanity,” stated Women in Black and the Autonomous Women’s Centre.
The two NGOs continue to express solidarity and compassion for women victims of sexual violence, both those who were killed and those who survived.
“We nurture a policy of remembrance as a responsibility about crimes committed on our behalf during the war in BiH. We recall that women who survived sexual violence in the war remain invisible to institutions in Serbia – they are not recognized as civilian victims of war, nor as victims of gender-based violence against women, who deserve special rights, support and protection,” said Women in Black.
On Saturday, June 19, Women in Black and the Autonomous Women’s Centre, together with the Association of War Victims of Foca (1992-1995), will organize a visit to Foca with messages: “We remember the women of Foca!” and “For the dignity of women victims of sexual violence in war!”.
June 19, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in War, was established by the United Nations in 2015.