01 February 2018
Pension for survivors of sexualised wartime violence
“This pension is an important signal for those affected: firstly, as financial compensation, but also as a societal acknowledgement of the injustice they suffered,” explains Monika Hauser, founder of the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale. “A long time has passed, and the fact that now they can finally apply for a pension is due to the tireless commitment of many civil society actors, including our Kosovan partner organisation Medica Gjakova and the Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims.”
A study from 2015 shows: wartime rape adversely affects the physical and psychological health of the survivors over a period of years or even decades. “The pension for survivors of sexualised violence is a sign the country wants to make amends. Furthermore, it will also contribute to resolving the divisions in society between victims and perpetrators,” explained Mirlinda Sada, Director of Medica Gjakova. The plan is to accompany this transition in society with a national campaign relating to the pension. “Our aim is to bring women back into the centre of society and help them regain their dignity.”
The gynaecologist Monika Hauser highlights the fact that women survivors in post-war Germany never received a pension such as this. “They have never benefitted from any social or political acknowledgement of their suffering, nor did they receive any specialist treatment, nor was there any legal process of coming to terms with what happened. In fact, they generally had to remain silent their whole life, keeping their experiences to themselves.”
Estimates suggest 20,000 women and girls were raped during the 1998/9 Kosovo war. These violations of human rights were not dealt with for a long time, and even today they are generally a taboo subject. In 2006/7 Kosovo women’s rights organisations called for survivors of sexualised violence to be acknowledged as civilian war victims. It took seven years before the country’s parliament passed the first draft of a law to include survivors of sexualised violence in the existing ruling regarding the “Status of Rights of Martyrs, Invalids, Veterans, Members of KLA, Civilian Victims of War and their Families”. Since then, the affected women have been waiting for the government to decide the level of the pension and the details of how and when they can apply for it.