Open Letter To The National Assembly Of Republika Srpska Regarding The Discussion On The Information And Recommendations Of The Study On The Position Of Serb Women Victims Of Wartime Sexualized Violence In Bosnia And Herzegovina
24 April 2015
For years now nongovernmental organizations and individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with international experts and UN committees such as the Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, have been pointing to the lack of adequate legal protection of women who survived wartime rape and other forms of sexualized violence in BiH.
On a number of occasions, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all its administrative units, Federation of BiH and its Cantons, as well as Republika Srpska, have been made aware that discrimination of survivors of wartime sexualized violence is both horizontal (between the victims of this type of violence, depending on their location) and vertical (in relation to other categories of victims of war, in particular war veterans).
For years now the demands for explicit recognition of women victim of sexualized violence as civilian victims of war have been put forth, as well as the demand for compensations for the harms suffered, along with equal access to social and economic rights for all victims regardless of their location. This was particularly underlined by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms Rashida Manjoo, during her official visit to BiH in 2012, as well as in her report from the mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she explicitly recommended “government authorities at all levels to recognize the existence of civilian women victims of rape and torture, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, and to ensure that they have equal access to remedies and services, regardless of their physical location within the country” and to ensure “compensation schemes that avoid the differentiated treatment currently being received by civilian victims of war throughout the country”.
Despite these recommendations and the warnings of the nongovernmental organizations that the living conditions of the survivors of wartime rape are rapidly deteriorating, and the fact that their war traumas are now intertwined with poverty, lack of adequate psychosocial support and medical healthcare, as well as growing societal stigmatization of this population, the institutions of RS, both legislative and executive, have thus far done nothing to protect this vulnerable group.
The sufferings of women victims of sexualized violence have been going on for too long. We commend the awakened interest of the RS government, and in particular the RS National Assembly, to start dealing with this issue and to provide the survivors of wartime sexualized violence a decent and productive life, but at the same time we express our concern with regards to the discussion that took place on the third session of the National Assembly of RS. The discussion regarding the information and recommendations in the Study on the Position of Serb Women Victims of Wartime Sexualized Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina dealt with victims of only one nationality, not all victims living on the territory of RS.
We call upon the RS National Assembly to ensure that the suggested legal solutions for the improvement of the status of these women do not become mono-national, and that they ensure legal protection of ALL victims of wartime sexualized violence living on the territory of RS today, regardless of their ethnicity, in order to avoid unacceptable additional discrimination of these women, which is contrary to international standards, constitutional provisions and the Anti-Discrimination Law of BiH.
Women Organizing for Change Initiative
Supported by (in alphabetical order)
Centar za pravnu pomoć ženama
Dženana Karup Druško
Feministički antimilitaristički kolektiv – FAK
Fond otvoreno društvo BiH
Fondacija lokalne demokratije
Fondacija za osnaživanje žena
Inicijativa za monitoring evropskih integracija BiH
Nela Porobić Isaković
Omladinski pokret Revolt Tuzla
Platforma Jedan Svijet
Sarajevski otvoreni centar
TPO Fondacija Sarajevo
Trial (Track Impunity Always) ured u BiH
Udruženje Centar za demokratiju i tranzicionu pravdu
Udruženje Forma F
Udruženje Medica Zenica
Udruženje prijedorčanki Izvor
Udruženje roditelja u borbi protiv zloupotrebe droga ” Ruka ruci ” Bihać
Udruženje Srcem do mira
Udruženje Snaga žene
Udruženje za afirmaciju žene BiH
Udruženje Tranzicijska pravda
Udruženje Žena BiH
Udruženje Žena Ženama
Udruženje Žena žrtva rata
Zilka Spahić Šiljak