Bosnian war rape victims suffer in silence, wait for justice

Bosnian war rape victims suffer in silence

Fika was 15 years old, and her sister 17, when they were captured and repeatedly raped by Bosnia n Serb soldiers who swept through eastern Bosnia early in the country's 1992-95 war.

"We were forced to watch each other being raped, and I still feel my pain and the pain of my sister," she said. "They wanted us to admit we were spies, so they beat us till they knocked out our teeth."

Twenty years on, Fika is among thousands of Bosnia n Muslim women whose search for recognition and support from the Bosnia n state is being blocked by Bosnia n Serb leaders who fear a wave of compensation claims. He r sister died at the hands of their torturers.

Rights groups are losing patience, warning that the psychological toll is only getting worse with time. "The silence surrounding the wartime rape of women in the Serb Republic ... is deafening," Amnesty International wrote in October.

Fewer than 40 rape cases have been prosecuted in the 17 years since the war ended, and legislation at the state level to extend compensation and rehabilitation rights to rape victims of the war is gathering dust, hostage to ethnic politicking.

The lesson of Bosnia has spurred a push by Britain to raise awareness of sexual violence in war when it takes over the chairmanship of the G8 group of industrialised nations next year.

Under the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the British government plans to send police officers, lawyers, psychologists and forensic experts to Bosnia and other conflict and post-conflict countries to work with local authorities on the issue.

" Bosnia and Herzegovina is seen as a priority country," Ann Hannah, a spokeswoman for the initiative, told Reuters. She said a team would arrive in Bosnia early in 2013.

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