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BIRN Documentary 'Silent Scream' Shown in Sarajevo

Wednesday, 19.11.2014 (19:00-20:40)
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s new documentary about victims of sexual violence had its premiere in the Bosnian capital on Wednesday and provoked a vigorous discussion.
Featuring the testimonies of women and men who survived sexual abuse in the 1990s war, the documentary aims to encourage more surviving victims to report the crimes they experienced - and speak up about what they went through, a panel discussion after the premiere heard.

“People who survived are not guilty for what happened to them and must speak up, so that crimes can be prosecuted,” Mirna Buljugic, director of BIRN's Bosnia and Herzegovina office, said.

“Silent Scream” depicts the trauma that many victims of wartime sexual abuse still feel, nearly 20 years after the war in Bosnia ended.

Produced with financial support of the UK government, the film also brings to life testimonies of suffering during the war in Bosnia, but also in neighboring countries.

Nasiha Klipic and Dobrivoje Bojovic who spoke about their trauma in the film told the panel discussion they were not satisfied with the pace of prosecution of these crimes or with the way the government treats survivors.

“As victims, we do not ask much, we do not want monuments or to be praised like heroes. We just seek a normal life,” Bojovic remarked.

Experts, representatives of NGOs and judicial institutions spoke in the film about the problems that victims have to deal with, as well as with what witnesses have to go through when trying to prove sexual violence occurred.

Erna Mackic, editor at BIRN's Bosnia and Herzegovina office, said many victims live on the margins of society, often without professional help or support from the local community.

“Society is not ready to hear them, listen, or help," she said. "Laws that would help victims achieve their rights were not adopted. The practice of achieving fundamental rights within the state is uneven,” Mackic added.

Gordana Tadic, head of the war crimes department at the prosecutor's office, said her institution now had more capacity and pledged that the prosecution of these crimes would accelerate.

Participants of the panel discussion said the victims have an obligation to say publicly what they survived.

“I recommend everyone to speak up and not to be ashamed. I am not scared and will still walk with my head held high in Prijedor and Kozarac,” Klipic said.
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