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Two
decades after some of the worst atrocities during
the were wer committed, the Croatian victims still await justice, recognition and
support. These are the conclusions from the roundtable held in Vukovar on the April
03, 2012
, the topic of sexual violence in war, organized by the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia and the city of Vukovar
and supported by the Office of the President’s.

“While
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found
that rape in times of war and sexual harassment constitute war crimes
and torture, according to the Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the
past, up to now only 17 prosecutions in Croatia engaged in sexual cases violence, “said Vesna Teršelič.

Please find the report on the event originaly published at Index.hr and speech given by the Director of Documenta attached.

Discussion on “Sexual violence in war and prosecute perpetrators of
sexual violence during war
” was moderated by Croatian
President’s advisor Zrinka Vrabec Mojzes, and keynote speakers were Predrag Matic, Minister of
Veterans, Louisa Vinton, UN Resident Coordinator, Resident
Representative Program United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Eve Ensler, renowned
world-renowned American playwright and activist for women’s human
rights, representatives of Ministry of Justice and of Health,
representatives of civil society, victims of rape in war and others.

The event was organized to draw attention to the suffering of rape victims
and to mobilize national institutions and civil society to intensify its
efforts to punish the perpetrators and to respond to the needs of
victims.

“Croatia
as a nation care for its veterans with great respect and generosity
which some might call an exaggerated” – said Louisa Vinton, UN Resident
Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia. “Victims
of sexual violence, which have deep wounds as each wounded veteran,
certainly deserve the same recognition and empathy. However, their
sufferings are too long been neglected and ignored their needs.”

The two surviving victims of rape during the continuous occupation of Vukovar in 1991. The shared the horrors that were experienced and talked about the neglect of the legal and social institutions.

“The
criminals are at large, and concern for victims is insufficient,” said
Mary Slišković, president of the women killed in the war, adding a
“wrong message was sent because the victims are left to themselves, and
the need to deal with the consequences of a offenders is possible to believe that what they have done no crime. So live past 20 years. “

Veterans
Minister Predrag Matić said “as a defense of Vukovar, I spent 9 months
in three military camps in Serbia and many experienced trauma. However,
one of the traumas that I always follow the screams of women in the
camps. From these cries was not hard to imagine what those Women
going on. by institutions, not done enough to help the victims. small
number of women identified the status of civilian war victims. What we
want is that the Law on Croatian Defenders rape be called a spade a
spade and this is a war crime. Changing domestic legislation the
victims of war is based on the existence of a disability. However,
these wounds are the wounds of another kind – the wounds of the soul and
pride.

Participants
also pointed out the inequalities between the comprehensive support
that is provided for Croatian war veterans (whose annual benefits are
estimated at 1.8% of GDP), and the complete absence of health insurance
and pension or other benefits for victims of sexual violence. Some have argued that rape victims are granted the status of civilian war victims.

Recalling
his experience counseling victims from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marijana
Senjak
emphasized the “Recovery is possible, it is not random and has a
predictable stages. Primary need a comprehensive approach, the
psychological, gynecological and općepravne help. But through our
experience in the Women’s Association “Medica” Zenica in trying to help through a more therapeutic model with many stages. “

Representatives
of state institutions who were present, acknowledged the challenges
that exist in punishing offenders, but they still call the victims to
overcome their silence and come forward publicly.

Davor
Petričević
, Osijek County Attorney pointed out, “This kind of war
crimes is extremely difficult to prosecute, sometimes impossible, but it
does not prevent our investigators to cooperate with the ICTY, but also
the special prosecution for war crimes in Belgrade, by all means seek new evidence and raise new charges. stress, none of these items is not in the drawer. “

As
a special guest, organized by the Centre for Women’s Studies, the
conference was attended Eve Ensler, American playwright, author of The
Vagina Monologues, the play which promotes awareness about violence
against women. “I
sat here today and listened to the words of women who were rape victims
simply overwhelmed me rage. Life of a woman’s life all of us. If
someone inflicts pain a woman, the pain inflicted on us all. I cry every
day for all women victims sexual crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the whole world, I cry and I was not ashamed to say. “