The history of literature in the Western world begins with Homer and his account of the Trojan War. The trigger for the conflict was the kidnapping of Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta, by Paris, the prince of Troy. Since then, in every war, the abduction and rape of women have been considered one more element of the conflict, something inevitable that is part of wartime.
But surprisingly, it was not until 1998 that the first trial for rape as a war crime took place. Women have been taken as part of the spoils of war throughout history. However, rape is a weapon of war like the sword, arrow, fire, or AK-47. Possibly the most forgotten war crime in history, which we began to be aware of at the end of the 20th century when the world learned about the sexual violence unleashed in the Bosnian war.
“Rape is the cheapest weapon on record. Annihilate families and empty towns. It turns girls into outcasts, who want to end their lives when they are just beginning. It spawns children who are a daily reminder to their mothers of the ordeal they endured, often dismissed as “bad blood” by their community. Plus, it’s almost always ignored in the history books.”
This is the indisputable view of this writing, where we are going to tell you about an unforgotten sexual genocide and what war does to women?
Women Raped During Yugoslavian War a Systematic Violations
In 1991, a series of wars began in the Balkans that ended up disintegrating Yugoslavia. Those wars were political, economic, religious, and ethnic. Horrors that seemed to have been left behind with the Second World War plunged Europe back into bombing, bloodshed, and genocide that sought ethnic cleansing. One of the weapons used for this “cleansing” was mass rape. To date, more than 10,000 women raped during the conflict have been recorded, but silence won by a landslide. Therefore, it was impossible to know how many women were raped. But an estimated 20,000 and 600,000 women were raped.
“The victims ranged from six to seventy years old and were repeatedly raped, often accompanied by several years of captivity. Many women were forcibly impregnated and held until it was impossible for them to abort. Women were treated like property and rape was used to intimidate, humiliate and degrade.”
This tragedy finally jumped to the press and books that analyzed the conflict. For the first time in history, sexual violence was considered a weapon of war on record.
Victims Still Horribly Affected
Women Raped During Yugoslavian War are the victim of a systemic violation for centuries and currently the victims are suffering. The violations committed not only inflicted the utmost humiliation on the women and their families, but their consequences are still present today and are a serious social problem still pending solutions. The stigma of rape is present in many areas that were part of the conflict. Many women choose to remain silent for fear of being rejected.
Organizations such as the Association of Women Victims of War are fighting against this social stigma. They provide assistance in all areas to victims and their children. Among the victims, there were also men and therapy has different purposes for each gender.
With women, the goal is to make the feeling of guilt and shame disappear. Working with men is different. It’s about making them understand that, whatever happens, they haven’t lost their manhood. For many, their wives abandoned them.
A long way to go
Social movements such as #MeToo started in 2017, and manage to put an end to the feeling of guilt and shame of many women. The complaints are happening, which has left evidence of the serious problem that has with sexual violence, as common as suspected, as sad as the stories that now leave evidence.
In June 2008, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution on sexual violence in war: “rape and other forms of sexual violence may constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity or an act constitutive of genocide”. Added to the silence of the victims is the difficulty of finding valid evidence in a trial.
We know that, unlike murders, rapes don’t leave bodies. Therefore, it is difficult to quantify.
And this is in the Western world, where women have access to training and information. The route that remains for us to alleviate the problems of sexual violence seems long.