It has been more than thirty years since war erupted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, yet the quest for justice remains a central concern for most survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. This is primarily fueled by the absence of a transitional justice strategy and the impunity of war criminals.
Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) has lasting consequences not only for survivors but also their families and communities. According to reports published by NGOs in BiH, memorialization and public acknowledgement of these crimes are an important part of securing justice for victims, facilitating their healing and reintegration into society.
Criminal convictions are an important aspect of achieving justice and accountability in the aftermath of conflict-related sexual violence. Indeed, BiH has recognized that fighting impunity and facing the past through this legal avenue is the basic precondition for the gradual reconciliation of society (Moratti, 2022). The second part of this series on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) will therefore explore the good and bad practices related to the legal response to CRSV.
The pursuit of justice for survivors of sexual violence committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) offers valuable lessons for international and non-governmental organizations as well as other actors now working with the survivors of war crimes being committed in Ukraine more than 25 years later.
Media reports on gender-based violence are most often linked to murders, attempted murders, sexual harassment, and rape. We often see headlines such as ‘Drunk man imprisoned for abusing his wife.’ ‘Pregnant woman threatened and beaten,’ or ‘Woman killed out of jealousy.’ Such news related to gender-based violence can be found in media sources in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the wider region.