08. February 2019
Kosovo: one year war pension for raped women
In 2018, there were 900 applications for a compensation pension from women and men who were raped during the Kosovo war. 190 of these were granted, 100 were rejected. This was the answer given by the Verification Committee of the Kosovo government in response to an enquiry from Medica Gjakova. Estimates suggest 20,000 women and girls were subjected to sexualised violence during the 1998/9 Kosovo war. As of February 2018, they are entitled to a monthly benefit of 230 euros. People affected are still entitled to the compensation even if they have since moved away from Kosovo to another country.
Application for the war pension limited to 5 years until 2023
Medica Gjakova, a partner organisation to the Cologne-based women’s rights organisation medica mondiale, is providing advice to survivors of sexualised violence as they make their applications. “It is terrible news to hear that two thirds of the submitted applications have not yet been dealt with,” complains Mirlinda Sada, Director of Medica Gjakova. “For the women, the waiting and the uncertainty are unbearable.” The Kosovan activist is also critical of the lack of oversight for the Verification Committee: for example, there are no publicly available statistics on the applications, and the committee does not name its reasons for rejections. Furthermore, the time period during which the survivors can make an application is only 5 years: until the beginning of 2023.
Survivors of sexualised violence finally officially recognised as civilian war victims
Nonetheless, despite the criticism, women’s rights campaigners such as Sada welcome the fact that, since 2014, the survivors of sexualised wartime violence have finally been officially recognised as civilian war victims. Six local government offices and four civil society organisations provide advice to survivors who are considering submitting an application. Medica Gjakova is one of them. Applying for compensation can trigger conflicts within their families, says Sada. Pressure is put on the women because their relatives fear that when people hear about the application for or granting of a war pension, it will bring to light the rape that has been kept hidden for 20 years. “Actually it would be very important to finally acknowledge the injustice that occurred,” explains Sada. “We can see this during the advisory sessions: the women want to talk and get the weight off of their chests.”
Advice on submitting an application
Shortly after the war ended in 1999, the Cologne women’s rights organisation medica mondiale opened up a women’s therapy centre in Gjakova. In 2011, a second organisation was set up: Medica Gjakova. Its staff provide medical, psychosocial and legal support to survivors of (wartime) violence. For more than 25 years, medica mondiale has been working to benefit women and girls in areas of conflict and war. The organisation sees itself as an advocate for the rights and interests of women who have survived sexualised wartime violence.