Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mass Rape, Forced Pregnancy, Genocide

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1 Jun 1993

In February 1993, Equality Now sent Feryal Gharahi, a Muslim lawyer and Vice-Chair of Equality Now, to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she documented the use of systematic mass rape and forced pregnancy as part of the Serbian genocidal "ethnic cleansing" policy. In June 1993, Feryal Gharahi returned to Croatia and travelled to the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she interviewed UNHCR officials, relief workers, and a number of recently arrived refugees. Despite the sharp decline in international media coverage of rape in Bosnia, Equality Now's June mission confirmed that systematic mass rape is still official Serbian military policy. Here are some of Feryal Gharahi's findings:

I met a woman from Prijedor. She had run away to escape the Serbian forces but was captured in the woods and brought back to the town. There she was kept in a school building with approximately thirty women, all of whom were raped repeatedly by Serbian soldiers. After several weeks in this rape camp, she managed to escape one morning at 4 am and eventually made her way to the border. I met a woman from Celinac who had been raped by Serbian soldiers and then witnessed her neighbors, two girls aged 13 and 17, getting raped in the presence of their parents. In Vrbanja, two women were set on fire by the Serbian soldiers who raped them. All this happened in April.

Since my last visit in February, the situation has become worse for women in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In response to the international outcry against rape, the Serbian military forces in Bosnia have made efforts to diminish the visibility of rape. The strategy has not changed, only the tactics. Rather than several hundred women in one rape camp, now there are much smaller groups of women in many more rape camps. After a year of raping women routinely, Serbian soldiers have become professional rapists. They are cold and mechanical, impervious to the desperate cries and pleas of women which previously on occasion had the effect of dissuading an individual soldier from carrying out his orders to rape. The women too have changed, in part as a result of the media stampede earlier this year. I sensed shame turning to anger, as women realize that although the atrocities they suffered have been exposed internationally, no action is being taken to stop these crimes against humanity. The women feel betrayed and abandoned. Now they speak much more openly but, ironically, no one is listening to them. I left with a terrible sense of hopelessness.

As you read this, women are being raped and killed systematically in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under orders. There are individuals directly responsible for these atrocities. They have issued orders to rape and kill and they have the power to stop this genocide at any time. They have names and faces. Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, is one such name and his face is on this poster.

What You Can Do: 

Use the poster below to highlight the ongoing atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina—get it published in local newspapers, put it on billboards, hand it out at public events. Send copies of ads or photos of the poster, or the poster itself, to your President, Prime Minister, elected representatives, and government officials responsible for foreign affairs, and to the Secretary General of the United Nations, New York, New York 10017. Call for immediate action to stop the genocidal rape and killing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Try to send the poster and other messages of protest directly to Radovan Karadzic by fax at 38-11-235-1213.


Radovan Karadzic