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Ensuring Justice for Sexual Violence Victims

Tuesday, 10.06.2014 (11:30-13:00)

Representatives of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke at the Global Summit to end sexual violence in conflict in London about the status of rape victims and challenges to objective reporting about sexual violence.

At the panel, representatives of BIRN spoke about their experience in interviewing sexual violence victims, especially about the difficult conditions they live in today, and how they, as journalists, deal with the traumas they hear directly from victims in the courtrooms and in interviews.

“Victims of sexual violence, men and women alike, live on the margins. They are not given their elementary human rights, and they often meet the perpetrators online or in public, so they have to deal with the persons who are guilty for their trauma”, said Erna Mackic, Chief editor of BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Chief communications officer of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Nerma Jelacic, spoke about the importance of this institution for sexual violence victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because many of them spoke out about their experiences there for the very first time.

“Over sixty percent of the defendants before the Tribunal have been charged with wartime sexual violence. The victims are never sorry that they testified, despite the fact that sometimes the verdict do not match the gravity of the crimes”, said Jelacic.

Members of the international community and media who attended the discussion were extremely interested in the responsibility of peacekeeping missions for wartime sexual violence incidents which occurred during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jelacic said that there are no cases pending in relation to crimes committed by international forces.

BIRN deputy editor Denis Dzidic highlighted the silence of the sexually abused men during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding it was time to remove the stigma. “It is the role of society to integrate these men back into its midst and it must not blame them”, he said.

Special United Nations envoy Angleina Jolie addressed the media at the start of the summit, claiming that rape is being used as a tool of war all around the world, which has nothing to do with sex, but with torture and humiliation.

“Rape is not inevitable. We, as international community, are responsible that today there is no justice for victims. We must stop this”, said Jolie.

William Hague, the Foreign minister of Great Britain, said that men must also be encouraged to publically state that “only a weak man can rape a woman”.

The summit in London is being held from June 10 – 13, with hundreds of delegates participating. The aim of the summit is to raise awareness about wartime sexual violence and promote a common declaration about this.

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