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Background:




In 2014 Medica Zenica and medica mondiale conducted a study with 51 survivors of war rape and sexual violence from Bosnia and Herzegovina who had used Medica Zenica's services during and after the war.
Full Title: "We are still alive. We have been harmed but we are brave and strong.” Second revised edition. (November 2014).
© Medica Zenica & medica mondiale



About the research:



Although Medica Zenica has recorded more than 400,000 instances of supporting women over the last 21 years, violence against women continues to be a huge problem in Bosnian society. Alongside the consequences of the war, reasons for this violence include poverty, unemployment, shattered families, and prevailing patriarchal structures and gender inequality within society.

Many women suffer for years, even decades, from psychological and physical post-traumatic symptoms such as panic attacks, chronic pain and cancers – and they simply feel homeless in their own lives. Together with the life-long impairments, survivors also suffer social consequences such as stigmatisation and social exclusion, which often jeopardises their ability to support themselves and their families.

For this reason, many find it impossible to talk about what happened to them, and this socially-enforced pressure to remain silent then leads to even more suffering. We also have to assume that the majority of survivors remain silent, and so never receive any specific support.

The devastating effects of wartime sexual violence are not limited to the individual women themselves. Their families and the whole social environment is also involved. In fact, these long-term consequences persist into the next generations.

This research was compiled in the way that we approach all our work: in a spirit of participation, in order to empower women and girls.
We were driven by the fact that sexual violence could also happen to us. And we asked ourselves how we would then like to be treated. The answer was clear: with respect and as individuals! And this attitude is still needed. We still need professional and supportive assistance. We still need to share the pain with the survivors, because the consequences of violence are far from over! In this spirit we want to share the results of this study with like-minded people.
Researchers:
Sabiha Husi?, M.Sc., Irma Šiljak, Emina Osmanovi?, Ferida ?eki?, Lejla Heremi?
Consultants:
Dr. Simone Lindorfer, Dr. Elvira Durakovi?-Belko, Andreja Dugandži?, Nejra ?engi?

Here you can watch the video clip of the study and read the summary of the research.

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In 2013 medica mondiale and Medica Zenica celebrated their 20th anniversary. We took this opportunity to look back at our achievements, but also to point out the large scale human rights breaches still being committed worldwide. Survivors are still receiving inadequate support from society and from political decision-makers. They also experience insufficient public recognition of the suffering they underwent. Hence, both
medica mondiale and Medica Zenica continue their work with persistence and political power. And despite many obstacles we had to overcome during those two decades, we were able to help 23,000 women and girls affected by violence to cope with their
traumatic experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone. The struggle against sexualised violence continues to drive us all on.

During 2013 we looked towards Afghanistan with anxiety as the security situation there continued to degenerate dramatically for women. Staff members, human rights activists and women whose profession places them in the public eye were increasingly
the subject of attacks. Facing the withdrawal of international troops in 2014, the country has seen a strengthening of conservative forces who, for example, tried to abate women-friendly laws. Afghanistan constitutes a perfect example of the challenges to
secure a sustainable transformation of a post-war society. The international community’s response will have to come up with other answers than merely and primarily focusing on military interventions – more often than not designed to serve their own
interests.

In the past year we received overwhelming support for the assistance we are giving to our Liberia project. Having launched a call for donations for medica mondiale Liberia during the year of our anniversary resulted in private donations amounting to approximately 300,000 euros. Starting in October 2014, the Liberian staff will be managing their organisation and continue to ensure social changes and sustainable empowerment
for Liberian women.

We would like to thank all of our donors and funders for this amazing result and for the trust you have shown during the past two decades!

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An analysis on the use of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law (EVAW Law) in Medica Afghanistan legal aid cases:

The present report intends to describe
- the evolvement of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law (EVAW Law) over the year 2013 and in the first months of 2014,
- its use by Medica Afghanistan legal aid team and its implementation by the judiciary (mainly prosecution services and courts) over the period going from August 1st 2012 and December 31st 2013 through the analysis of EVAW Law cases that Medica Afghanistan managed.

Its purpose is also to assess any correlation between the findings of the report with general issues that have been developed under this chapter and trends that have been assessed nationwide, particularly in the latest reports drafted by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and by the Afghanistan Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA).

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16 November, 2014 (Kabul/Afghanistan)

The Elimination of Violence against Women law (EVAW) continues to be a crucial tool in seeking protection and justice for women affected by violence and for women human rights defenders. Since its enactment until today, this law faces a number of challenges and shortcomings. Medica Afghanistan’s fundamental argument is that violence against women is a specific problem endemic in Afghanistan, and thus our country requires a specific strategy to successfully tackle this scourge. Therefore, our request to the Afghan government is that provisions to prosecute acts of violence against women not be compromised during the current process of criminal code consolidation.

Many groups and organizations seeking to achieve human rights goals have worked hard to overcome challenges and obstacles in their struggle to find justice for women. The Government is called upon to harmonize the activities of NGOs, relevant UN agencies and the international community. To this end, we welcome the news that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) in collaboration with UN WOMEN is developing a concerted approach and strategy to eliminate violence against women (VAW) in Afghanistan.

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Over the past three months, Medica Afghanistan, through its usual series of activities, continued to provide a range of multi disciplinary services for women and girls such as psychosocial counselling, legal representation, social support, family mediation, literacy classes, referrals for health care, and other appropriate services according to the needs identified in Kabul, Herat and Balkh provinces. In addition, Medica Afghanistan advocated publicly and lobbied politically for women’s rights in order to bring long-term, sustainable change for women and girls. We also conducted training in the fields of psychosocial, health, legal aid and advocacy. Moreover, MA organized legal awareness-raising sessions for our legal aid and psychosocial services clients, and our literacy learners with the purpose of empowering them to deal with problems in the best possible manner and strengthening their self-esteem and self-confidence.

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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has become an international humanitarian crisis. The death toll is rising and the geographic coverage is widening. This is not just a medical emergency but also a crisis that could destabilize the entire region for years to come. In spite of the horrific situation facing the region, the international response has been disappointingly inadequate. The international community, specifically the European Union and member states, and the United States have a responsibility to do more to mobilize the expertise, logistics and financial resources that are needed to bring the crisis under control.
Liberia is doing what it can and its doctors and nurses have been on the frontline handling the crisis and risking their lives. But Liberia, which has just emerged from 14 years of civil war, does not have the infrastructure to handle the current Ebola crisis. The country should not be expected to deal with the worst outbreak of the world’s deadliest virus on its own. It is imperative that the international community acts now to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

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In the past three months Medica Afghanistan-Women’s Support Organization continued to extend support for women and girls survivors of violence despite political and security uncertainty in the country due to presidential elections. At the Medica Afghanistan Kabul office and provincial offices and centres, our lawyers, social workers, counsellors and psychologists assisted clients desperately in need of their professional services. In addition, we were actively involved in advocacy and proactively participated in networks, task forces, working groups, media interviews, and lobbying meetings to raise the voice of women and to ask people in power to bring substantial changes to legislation, government structures and public attitudes towards women.
Medica Afghanistan staff also provided specialized awareness-raising sessions to our legal aid and psychosocial services clients and to students of the literacy classes with the aim of increasing the level of knowledge of women and their families about their legal rights according to Afghanistan law and gender issues in the family and society. Though the effects of these sessions will not be obvious immediately, they can have positive effects in the ways families think about the status of women.

Medica Afghanistan, as part of the women and civil society network and as part of the women’s movement in Afghanistan and around the world, strives to be continuously the voice of those women who do not have any
voice.

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