War's overlooked victims, Bosnian Muslim Women
Some excerpts from today’s edition of The Economist:
“As the reporting of rape has improved, the scale of the crime has become more horrifyingly apparent (see table). And with the Bosnian war of the 1990s came the widespread recognition that rape has been used systematically as a weapon of war and that it must be punished as an egregious crime. In 2008 the UN Security Council officially acknowledged that rape has been used as a tool of war.”
“At worst, rape is a tool of ethnic cleansing and genocide, as in Bosnia, Darfur and Rwanda. Rape was first properly recognised as a weapon of war after the conflict in Bosnia. Though all sides were guilty [factcheck: there were 20-30 cases of raped Serb women, 20-30 cases of raped Croat women, and close to 20,000 cases of raped Bosniak women], most victims were Bosnian Muslims [Bosniaks] assaulted by Serbs. Muslim women were herded into ‘rape camps’ where they were raped repeatedly, usually by groups of men. The full horrors of these camps emerged in hearings at the war-crimes tribunal on ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague; victims gave evidence in writing or anonymously. After the war some perpetrators said that they had been ordered to rape—either to ensure that non-Serbs would flee certain areas, or to impregnate women so that they bore Serb children.”
“Though wartime rape is prohibited under the Geneva rules, sexual violence has often been prosecuted less fiercely than other war crimes. But the Balkan war-crimes court broke new ground by issuing verdicts treating rape as a crime against humanity. The convictions of three men for the rape, torture and sexual enslavement of women in the Bosnian town of Foca was a big landmark.”
Source: The Economist, “Violence Against Women: War’s overlooked victims“, Jan 13, 2011.