Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mass Rape, Forced Pregnancy, Genocide

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IMPORTANT: This archived action campaign has been completed or discontinued, and the information contained in it may not be current. Please see Take Action for current and ongoing campaigns.
1 Apr 1994

In February 1993 Equality Now sent Feryal Gharahi, a Moslem 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 was still official Serbian military policy. Even now, although peace in some measure has come to Sarajevo, women are still being raped and killed in other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina where "ethnic cleansing" continues and rape continues to be used by Serbian forces as a weapon of "ethnic cleansing." On March 27, 1994 the New York Times reported:

Emina Gasi, who is 15, faltered as she started to recount the night in late February when men in Serbian military uniforms, stockings over their faces, broke into her home in Banja Luka, slashed her grandfather's head and arms with knives and, as his blood poured forth, raped her.

"Yes, when they raped me and my sister, it was like that," Rasema Beganovic, 34, broke in sympathetically. "Two men, in uniforms, they had stockings over their heads. The Serbs came to our house; they raped me in front of all my family, including my 9-year-old daughter."

In 1992 the Security Council of the United Nations established a Commission of Experts to investigate war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. In May 1993 the Security Council established an International Tribunal for the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Equality Now has assisted the Commission of Experts in recruiting volunteer women attorneys to gather evidence of war crimes, including rape and sexual assault, for the International Tribunal. In March 1994 Equality Now's Vice-Chair Feryal Gharahi returned again to the territory of the former Yugoslavia, as a member of the team of lawyers commissioned by the United Nations to gather evidence for the International Tribunal.

Equality Now supports the efforts that are being made on behalf of the International Tribunal. However, the slow pace with which the work of the Tribunal is moving forward is a cause of increasing concern. Almost a year after its formation, no one has been charged by the International Tribunal. Meanwhile, women are still being raped and killed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under orders. There are individuals directly responsible for these atrocities, and Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, is one such individual whose picture appears on the reverse side of this page.

What You Can Do: 

Use the poster on the reverse side of this page 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 Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 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 and call for the swift prosecution of war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic by the International Tribunal.


Radovan Karadzic