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05.12.2014

Research "We are still alive” on the long-term consequences of war rape and coping strategies of survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (173 pages)

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Background:

In 2014 Medica Zenica and medica mondiale conducted a study with 51 survivors of war rape and sexual violence from Bosnia and Herzegovina who had used Medica Zenica's services during and after the war.

Full Title: "We are still alive. We have been harmed but we are brave and strong.” Second revised edition. (November 2014).

© Medica Zenica & medica mondiale

About the research:

Although Medica Zenica has recorded more than 400,000 instances of supporting women over the last 21 years, violence against women continues to be a huge problem in Bosnian society. Alongside the consequences of the war, reasons for this violence include poverty, unemployment, shattered families, and prevailing patriarchal structures and gender inequality within society.

Many women suffer for years, even decades, from psychological and physical post-traumatic symptoms such as panic attacks, chronic pain and cancers – and they simply feel homeless in their own lives. Together with the life-long impairments, survivors also suffer social consequences such as stigmatisation and social exclusion, which often jeopardises their ability to support themselves and their families.

For this reason, many find it impossible to talk about what happened to them, and this socially-enforced pressure to remain silent then leads to even more suffering. We also have to assume that the majority of survivors remain silent, and so never receive any specific support.

The devastating effects of wartime sexual violence are not limited to the individual women themselves. Their families and the whole social environment is also involved. In fact, these long-term consequences persist into the next generations.

This research was compiled in the way that we approach all our work: in a spirit of participation, in order to empower women and girls.

We were driven by the fact that sexual violence could also happen to us. And we asked ourselves how we would then like to be treated. The answer was clear: with respect and as individuals! And this attitude is still needed. We still need professional and supportive assistance. We still need to share the pain with the survivors, because the consequences of violence are far from over! In this spirit we want to share the results of this study with like-minded people.

Researchers:

Sabiha Husić, M.Sc., Irma Šiljak, Emina Osmanović, Ferida Đekić, Lejla Heremić

Consultants:

Dr. Simone Lindorfer, Dr. Elvira Duraković-Belko, Andreja Dugandžić, Nejra Čengić

Here you can watch the video clip of the study and read the summary of the research.