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28 October 2013

Bosnian women still without justice

Cologne, October 28, 2013. "The suffering of the women in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not over yet: their trauma is still affecting society." This is how Monika Hauser, founder of medica mondiale, summed up the conclusions of the two-day conference "Working Towards Dignity – 20 years of fighting sexualised violence". Survivors of wartime rape are still not receiving adequate support or justice. Ms Hauser continued: "I call on the bearers of political responsibility to prioritise a rapid implementation of the 2006 law on the civil status of survivors of sexualised wartime violence. This includes making available the necessary funds and ensuring the solution applies to the whole country."

120 experts from 13 countries came to Zenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina on October 23rd and 24th to discuss challenges and opportunities in their work for the benefit of survivors of sexualised wartime violence. The conference was organised for the 20th anniversary of the women’s rights organisations medica mondiale and Medica Zenica. Topics ranged from the political responsibility of international actors, to achieving legal justice through prosecution, and presentations of tangible support on offer to survivors. "There are still so many women living in poverty and there is still no appropriate psychological or medical support for them," explained Sabiha Husić, Director of Medica Zenica.

"The Bosnian government has to finally respond and make it possible for these women to live a life of dignity. This means more than just official recognition as 'war invalids', which would entitle them to a small pension. It is also important to change the degrading nature of the application process for this pension and provide appropriate psychological and legal accompaniment for the women when they appear in court as witnesses."

The British Foreign Minister William Hague and UNHCR Special Representative Angelina Jolie praised the organisers of the conference in a letter: "For 20 years Medica Zenica and medica mondiale have been a lifeline for survivors of wartime sexual violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We applaud and strongly support your work." Long after the cessation of conflict, the survivors of rape bear a terrible burden. The international community has to ensure that they are never forgotten and undertake much more to protect innocent women, children and men from similar violence other conflict areas.

About Medica Zenica and medica mondiale

Shocked by the mass rapes of Bosnian women, at the end of 1992 the doctor Monika Hauser set off for the warzone in former Yugoslavia. Just a short while later in April 1993, with about 20 local female psychologists and doctors she opened the women's therapy centre Medica Zenica in the town of Zenica – the first centre of its kind. This laid the foundations for work which has been continued by local colleagues up to the present day. In Germany, supporters raised donations to help fulfil Ms Hauser's intentions, organised supply convoys into the warzone, and generated publicity. In June1993 they founded the charitable association medica mondiale in Cologne. Since then, the organisationhas been committed to supporting women and girls in war zones and crisis areas. In addition to gynaecological treatment and psychosocial and legal assistance, medica mondiale also offers programmes to help women secure their own livelihood and it carries out political human rights work.

Contact:

medica mondiale
Mechthild Buchholz
Press Spokeswoman
Phone: +49 (0) 221 - 93 18 98 25
E-Mail: mbuchholz(at)medicamondiale.org

Medica Zenica
Sabiha Husić, Leiterin Medica Zenica
Phone: 00387 32 463 930; 00387 61 153 763
E-Mail: medica1(at)bih.net.ba