Gender genocide in the Bosnian War
Sexual abuse has always been seen as an offense to men through their families, without taking into account victims’ suffering. But something is changing: the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820/2008 UN http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions08.htm resolution says that, when resolving conflicts,
- sexual violence crimes need to be excluded from amnesty provisions; and
- states should prosecute persons responsible for such acts.
Not only soldiers but mainly top commands are responsible – those who order to abuse, as a way to offense the enemy, or as an ethnic cleasing. When Rape is systematic, it becomes a war weapon, a crime against humanity.
Table of Contents
Some data on the Bosnian War
The Bosnian war was an international conflict which happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 6th April 1992 Reuters, Chronology – What happened during the war in Bosnia, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL21644464 to 14th December 1995 with the signing of Dayton Peace Accords.http://www.osce.org/item/15850.html It was due to a complex mix of political and religious factors, social crisis, all following the end of the cold war and fall of communism in old Yugoslavia.http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerra_de_Bosnia The conflict caused near 100,000 casualties, and 1,8 millions displaced. A 66% were muslim Bosnians or Bosniaks, and a 25% Serbia and Montenegro . However, 83% of civilian casualties were Bosniaks, a 30% of them women and children.Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo, http://www.idc.org.ba/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=35&Itemid=126&lang=bs
Serbs had shared friendship and celebrations with Muslim friends and neighbours. When Yugoslavia disappeared, they started shooting at and torturing them, burning their houses, raping women. In 2005, The United States Congress stated that “the Serbian policies of aggresion and ethnic cleansing meet the terms defining genocide.”The Library of Congress, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:SE00134:@@@L&summ2=m&
Serb militias were the main instigators of Bosnian War. Upon Bosnian muslim (Bosniak) people interviewed by the journalist Joe Sacco,Sacco, Joe (2000). Safe Area Goražde, Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 1560973927. this wave of hate and violence was instigated by Chetniks, an illegal group with an ideology of fascism and ethnic purity. Serbian paramilitary soldiers were often known and self-identified as Chetniks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chetniks#Yugoslav_Wars: for example, the White Eagles, whose leaders were convicted in July 2009 for burning 119 people alive.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/20/milan-and-sredoje-lukic-b_n_241310.html They were not judged for rape http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/bosnia-and-herzegovina-no-justice-rape-victims-20090721, though one of the victims survived and bore witness to the court http://genocideinvisegrad.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/investigation-visegrad-rape-victimes-say-their-crie-go-unherd/:
Croatia in Bosnia also collaborated in the ethnic cleansing, as in the Lasva Valley case. Dario Kordic, the Croatian local political leader, was found to be the planner and instigator http://www.icty.org/x/cases/kordic_cerkez/cis/en/cis_kordic_cerkez_en.pdf of these crimes, and convicted for them in 2001. The British television drama Warriors (Peacekeepers in Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United States of America of America of America) was based on this event. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119873/
“The first time, Milan Lukic raped me in the house. Then he took me down to the garden, where my 16-year old son was. Lukic grabbed him, took him into the house and came out holding a set of knives. “He asked me which one was the sharpest and when I told him, he slaughtered my son with that same knife. ‘Mummy’ was the last word my son said before he died. Then Lukic raped me in the garden again.”
In 15/04/2010, during an official visit in Sarajevo, the Croatian President Ivo Josipovic apologised for these crimes.Euractive: Croatia apologises for Bosnian war crimes.
Rape in the Bosnian War
During the war, rape was already being suspected to be systematic United Nations official document S/25274, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/25274:
Some of the reported rape and sexual assault cases committed by Serbs, mostly against Muslims, are clearly the result of individual or small group conduct without evidence of command direction or an overall policy. However, many more seem to be a part of an overall pattern whose characteristics include: similarities among practices in non-contiguous geographic areas; simultaneous commission of other international humanitarian law violations; simultaneous military activity; simultaneous activity to displace civilian populations; common elements in the commission of rape, maximizing shame and humiliation to not only the victim, by also the victim’s community; and the timing of the rapes. One factor in particular that leads to this conclusion is the large number of rapes which occurred in places of detention. These rape in detention do not appear to be random, and they indicate at least a policy of encouraging rape supported by the deliberate failure of camp commanders and local authorities to exercise command and control over the personnel under their authority.
Breeches in Geneva’s Law were found and denounced United Nations Commission on Breaches of Geneva Law in Former Yugoslavia http://www.earlham.edu/~pols/ps17971/terneel/bassiouni.html. Serbs created death/rape camps for Bosniaks in Visegrad http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/VIII-08.htm#III.A.85, Omarska http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/nov/03/warcrimes.balkans, Keraterm and Trnopolje http://www.tuzilastvobih.gov.ba/?opcija=predmeti&id=33&jezik=e. Women were retained even in houses. These camps were used to facilitate territorial and political control of a region, and to expel and eliminate ethnic populations from that area. Prisoners were detained, interrogated, tortured, treated as slaves, raped and killed http://www.earlham.edu/~pols/ps17971/terneel/bassiouni.html http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/A/allen_rape.html. Muslim bosnian women, as young as 14, were specifically targeted. A witness said in the court http://www.bim.ba/en/39/10/1776/:
“He told me to take my clothes off. I asked him why and told him that I was 16. He got angry… He took my clothes off and raped me… There was blood all over my body. I noticed that I had cuts on my arms. He told me that it was better for me that he took me than if I were raped by a group of soldiers.”
Rape as an ethnic cleansing weapon
U.N. General Lewis Mackenzie denied that there was a genocide http://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg00008.html:
“…if you’re committing genocide, you don’t let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate.”
There were two answers to that statement, both from the ICTY (International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia) http://www.icty.org/x/cases/krstic/acjug/en/krs-aj040419e.pdf:
- Serbs could disguise killing captured men as military operations, while avoided killing women not to attract international censure;
- the offence of genocide does not require proof that the perpetrator chose the most efficient method.
Serbs’ desire was to degrade, humiliate, and impregnate Bosniak women with “little Chetniks” Weitsman P.A. (2008). “The Politics of Identity and Sexual Violence: A Review of Bosnia and Rwanda”. Human Rights Quarterly 30: 561–578. doi:10.1353/hrq.0.0024 E-ISSN: 1085-794X Print ISSN: 0275-0392. Women were forced to go until their 7th month with their pregnancy, avoiding any possibility of abortion.
One case had a Serb soldier telling a Bosnian woman he was raping“Seventh Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Part II”. US submission of information to the United Nations Security Council. 1993. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/documents/sdrpt7b.htm:
“You should have already left this town. We’ll make you have Serbian babies who will be Christians.”
Women had deep and long-term psychological problems after being raped. Loncar, M.; V. Medved, N. Jovanovic and L. Hotujac (2006). “Psychological consequences of rape on women in 1991-1995 war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Croatian Medical Journal 47 (1): 67–75. ISSN 0353-9504. PMID 16489699. PMC 2080379. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2080379
The women knew the rapes would begin when ‘Mars na Drinu’ was played over the loudspeaker of the main mosque. (‘Mars na Drinu,’ or ‘March on the Drina’, is reportedly a former Chetnik fighting song that was banned during the Tito years.) While ‘Mars na Drinu’ was playing, the women were ordered to strip and soldiers entered the homes taking the ones they wanted. The age of women taken ranged from 12 to 60. Frequently the soldiers would seek out mother and daughter combinations. Many of the women were severely beaten during the rapes. “Seventh Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Part II”. US submission of information to the United Nations Security Council. 1993. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/documents/sdrpt7b.htm
Many of these women remain traumatised, cast out from their communities, rejected by their husbands and families, and often ending up stigmatised and impoverished. Some had the additional humiliation of being raped in front of their parents or small children. Those who became pregnant either abandoned their babies or had them adopted. Some decided to keep them, a constant reminder of their shame. This has been showed in several films, as “The secret life of words” (2005, Isabel Coixet) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430576/.
Grbavica is another film about the life of a single mother in contemporary Sarajevo. The director, Jasmila Zbanic, got a Golden Bear award in Berlin http://www.rte.ie/arts/2006/0220/berlinfilmfestival.html. She made the movie after interviewing hundreds of women, many of whom had hidden a story like the one in the film. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/film-award-forces-serbs-to-face-spectre-of-bosnias-rape-babies-526028.html
Gendercide or Gender Genocide
Gendercide was a term invented in 1985 by Mary Ann Warren in her book Gendercide: The implications of Sex Selection Mary Anne Warren, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1985) ISBN/ISSN: 0847673308.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate extermination of a race of people.” By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as “gynocide” and “femicide,” have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But “gendercide” is a sex-neutral term, in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term, since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice.
Apart from the Bosnian gendercide, other examples would be the witch-hunt signed by the Pope in 1484, burning widows in India (Sati) and of course the Female genital cutting.
Adam Jones, a US-based political scientist, has written extensively about gendercide and argues that there are also many examples of gender-selective mass killings that have targeted men. Many of these examples are recorded on this website.