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

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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)

Adrijana Hanušić

Aida Spahić

Amela Imamović-Arifović

Amra Delić

Belma Bečirbašić

Besima Čatić

Bojana Đoković

Centar za pravnu pomoć ženama

Dajana Bakić

Dijana Dorfer-Galijašević

Dubravka Kovačević

Duška Andrić

Dženana Karup Druško

Edita Miftari

Emina Sijahović

Emsuda Mujagić

Enisa Raković

Esmina Avdibegović

Fatima Gušić

Feministički antimilitaristički kolektiv – FAK

Fond otvoreno društvo BiH

Fondacija CURE

Fondacija lokalne demokratije

Fondacija za osnaživanje žena

Gorana Mlinarević

Hana Obradović

Imrana Kapetanović

Inicijativa za monitoring evropskih integracija BiH

Jasmina Čaušević

Lejla Hadžiahmić

Lejla Huremović

Mevlida Rovčanin

Milenka Sinanović

Milica Plavšić

Mirha Pojskić

Nela Porobić Isaković

Nermina Trbonja

Nesib Hodžić

Nidžara Ahmetašević

Nina Bosankić

Nurka Babović

Omladinski pokret Revolt Tuzla

Platforma Jedan Svijet

Sarajevski otvoreni centar

Seida Karabašić

Selma Korjenić

Tahira Dautbegović

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

UZ ‘SEKA”Goražde

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

Valentina Pellizzer

Viktorija Ružičić

Zilka Spahić Šiljak

Zlatica Gruhonjić

Zulka Baljak