[Brussels, 03 May 2012] EWL members in Croatia in April hosted the celebrated activist and author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, as part of their activities to draw attention to the issue of rape as a weapon of war. During her stay in Croatia and Serbia Eve announced a campaign to end violence against women: One Billion Rising.
Rape in time of war is an important issue of great concern to the EWL. In 2011 we wrote to the US president Obama to take action against the routine denial of abortions for women impregnated by rape in armed conflicts due to the US ‘no abortion’ policy attached to all humanitarian aid, including aid to countries in conflict. See more information here.
In order to draw attention to rape victims in war in former Yugoslavia, a roundtable meeting was organized by the UN in Croatia and the City of Vukovar. The idea behind this roundtable was to motivate state institutions to respond to rape victims’ needs and punish the perpetrators of crimes against women.
The conclusions of the meeting emphasised that: “Although the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has established that rape in the time of war as well as sexual harassment constitute war crimes in Croatia, even after two decades, the victims of rape are still awaiting justice, recognition and support.”
The work of the ministries in former Yugoslavia that are supposed to take care of victims and/or prosecute criminals is insufficient. There is no institutional support or benefits for victims of sexual violence. Marija Sliškovi?, president of Women in the Homeland War Association, warned that victims of wartime rape and sexual violence in general have neither special status nor special rights. Vesna Teršeli? from Documenta warns that up to now only 17 prosecutions in Croatia dealt with cases of sexual violence, and only a few verdicts have been passed, most of them in absentia.
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