Systematic Rape Principal Tactic of Bosnian Genocide
Victims: Rape is a war tactic
By Roy Gutman
23 August 1993.
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Serb forces in northern Bosnia systematically raped 40 young Bosniak [Muslim] women of a town they captured early this summer, telling some of their victims they were under orders to do so, the young women say.
Statements by victims of the assault, describing their ordeal in chilling detail, bear out reports that the Serb conquerors of Bosnia have raped Muslim women, not as a byproduct of the war, but as a principal tactic of the war.
“‘We have orders to rape the girls,'” Mirsada, 23, one of 20 young victims interviewed, said the young man who abducted her told her. He said that he was “ashamed to be a Serb” and added that “everything that is going on is a war crime,” she said.
Hafiza, also 23, said that she sought to dissuade the soldier who raped her.
“I tried crying and begging,” she said. “I said, ‘You have another and a sister, a female in the family.’ He said nothing. He didn’t want to talk. Then he said, ‘I must. I must.’ I said, ‘You must not, if you don’t want to.'”
But she was unable to stop him. The incident involved 40 young women from Brezovo Polje, a small town on the Sava River, where conquering forces marched in, seized all the civilians and dispatched them to their assigned fate according to age and sex.
The rape victims were interviewed in a refugee center, their only shelter after the destruction of their homes, their families and the basis of their economic survival. They agreed to be quoted and photographed, provided they were identified only by first name and age.
The Brezovo Polje episode is only one of a number of indications of a pattern of systematized rape during the Serb conquest of Bosnia.
In separate interviews in Tuzla, four young women from the village of Liplje, near Zvornik, said their Serb captors had detained them in a makeshift bordello where three or more men raped them every night for 10 nights.
A leading Bosnian women’s group has charged that more than 10,000 Bosnian women are being held in Serb detention camps where their captors rape them repeatedly, though that has not been independently confirmed. Another pattern is the rape of pregnant women and some middle-aged women.
Dr. Melika Kreitmayer, leader of the gynecological team that examined 25 of the 40 victims from Brezovo Polje, said that she and her colleagues are convinced that the object of the rapes was “to humiliate Muslim women, to insult them, to destroy their persons and to cause shock.”