EC Report Estimates 20,000 Rapes in Bosnia by 1993
Bosnian Rape Victim Waits to Give Unwanted Birth
The News-Journal, p.8A
8 January 1993.
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Aida B. has been gang-raped and she’s six months pregnant. She refers to the child as “it” and “this.” Her psychiatrist says she tries never to touch her belly.
It has been months since the dark-haired former factory worker has heard from her husband and daughter. A new life grows strong and healthy inside her but 30-year-old Aida carries the emotional scars of the baby’s conception.
Aida is not her real name, but then little remains of her former life.
She is one of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women who, Bosnian officials say, have been raped by Serb fighters including neighbors and acquaintances in attacks at home or in special “rape camps.” Survivors say many women were killed.
There are no certain figures on how many women have been victims, but the stories that are emerging have caused an international outcry.
A preliminary European Community report, obtained Thursday in Brussels, Belgium, said some 20,000 Muslim [Bosniak] women may have been raped by Serbs in Bosnia. It said there was strong evidence that many women and children were killed during or after sexual abuse.
“The indications are that at least some of the rapes are being committed in particularly sadistic ways so as to inflict maximum humiliation on the victims,” said the confidential report, prepared by an EC team sent to investigate allegations.
Before Bosnia exploded in war last spring, Aida lived quietly in the eastern Bosnia town of Gorazde with her husband and 10-year-old daughter, Selma.
The siege of Gorazde by Serb nationalists, dubbed Chetniks, lasted months.
“While Chetniks were besieging our town, I and ten other women from the neighborhood, some with children, hid in my three-room appartment on the outskirts of Gorazde,” she said in an interview.
On July 12, Serb irregulars broke into the apartment.
“Some wore face camouflage,” she recalled. “I recognized two by voice as local Serbs. Three of them took me to one room and raped me all night. After some time I grew numb except for screams I could hear from other rooms and apartments.”
Aida escaped in the morning when the soldiers fell asleep. The others were not so lucky, and what happened to them is uncertain.
But being out of Gorazde did not mean being free.
Aida noticed she was pregnant and hoped she could get an abortion. But she was trapped for several months with other Bosniaks in territory surrounded by Serbs.
By the time she managed to reach Zagreb, after joining a group that broke through Serb lines to the Croatian-held town of Kiseljak, it was too late for her to get an abortion.
She struggles with her secret.
“Nobody must know of this,” she said, pointing to her belly, “especially not my husband and my father-in-law.”
Many Muslim victims fear that male relatives will ostracize them. Some Muslim religious leaders are trying to persuade members of their male-dominated society to accept the women back as guiltless victims.