BOSNIA: Documentary Finds Little Rape Justice in Bosnia

Thursday, October 4, 2012
Women's Enews
Bosnia and Herzegovina
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Time has passed, but justice has not moved forward.

Between 1992 and 1995, tens of thousands of women were raped during the Bosnian and Herzegovina War. Some women faced daily assaults and were held captive for weeks or months.

For the rest of their lives these survivors have little hope of escaping their pains as justice crawls at such a snail's pace it might as well stand still.

Amnesty International's short documentary, "Still on the Frontline," newly available on Youtube, follows up on the recent feature film written and directed by Angelina Jolie, "In the Land of Blood and Honey", which brought international attention to this topic.

The camera follows Amnesty International researcher Elena Wasylew on one of her regular visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina to visit rape survivors. Wasylew investigates why, in 17 years after the war has ended, fewer than 40 of over 1000 cases brought forward have been prosecuted.

Wasylew speaks to the victims about the terror they faced, and still face, because they cannot receive justice.

"Nobody was interested in what I went through. It's a taboo, even today," said a survivor.

Many victims are afraid to testify not only because of the pain of reliving their torment, but because of the threat of reprisal by perpetrators and judgment they could face as victims.

A complex political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina makes the prosecution of war crimes extremely difficult and frustrating, one victim says in this film. "Facts are lost, witnesses are lost, victims are lost; people feel the authorities are waiting for the cases to disappear and for victims or criminals to die so there is no need for a trial."

One woman was told her case will be processed in 15 years because the court has no time for individual cases regardless even if she knows the name of her assailant and is willing to testify.

"One of the survivors told me she doesn't trust any of the governments anymore. She told me the governments are too busy doing politics and are too short sighted to listen to the real needs of their citizens," said Wasylew.