Mass Rape In BOSNIA: 20,000 Women, Mostly Muslims, Have Been Abused By Serb Soldiers:
January 23, 1993 – (Hamilton Spectator) During a night of unimaginable horror when she was raped by at least 15 Serb soldiers, Amela, a 25-year-old Bosnian, had no doubt why she'd been singled out for such bestiality.
"Because I am a Muslim," the married, red-haired woman says simply. "Their aim was to humiliate me, to make me lose my honor, to prove that they're the masters and they can rape and kill you just as they please. We are like their slaves."
Now she feels her life, quite literally, is ruined. It is only the thought of her two-year-old son that stops Amela from killing herself.
"I try to be brave, but without even thinking about it, I just feel a physical urge to throw myself in front of a car or a tram."
Dr. Jarmila Skrinjaric, a psychiatrist who is treating four Bosnian rape victims, says: "this is the biggest psychological trauma a human being can experience. It's even worse for the women who have gotten pregnant as a result."
Nearly every day, a pregnant Bosnian woman turns up in Zagreb, seeking an abortion or about to deliver an unwanted Serb-fathered baby. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Thousands more who escaped pregnancy simply blend into the huge refugee population, trying desperately to keep what they consider a shameful secret.
The European Community estimates 20,000 Bosnian women – mostly Muslims -- have been raped. The Croatian health ministry believes one-third of all those held in camps in Bosnia have been raped, including six-year-old girls and 80-year-old women.Bosnian officials fear hundreds have been killed after gang rapes.
Amnesty International released two reports late this week on the systematic and sexual degradation of women in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Amnesty International said although Muslim women are the main victims, and Serbian troops the main culprits, Creoatian and Muslim forces also commonly hunt women for the specific purpose of sexually abusing them.
As Amela's experience shows, Serbs have refined wartime rape from a Spontaneous crime into a well-mapped-out strategy of national humiliation.
Amela -- a pseudonym selected by the former factory worker – was rounded up last August along with all other residents of her husband's small Muslim village in northwestern Bosnia, between Banja Luka and Duboj.
The men were separated and, she believes, shot, and their bodies burned on the spot. Her husband, whom she hasn't heard from since last July, was not among them because he was off fighting for the Bosnian defence forces.
Sixty women, girls and children were taken to a lumber factory in Kotor Varos, where, after nightfall, the gang rapes began.
Selecting their victims by the light of matches, the Serb irregulars led Amela off with a knife to her throat. She thinks the men were under orders to rape because, when she begged to be let go, her Serb tormentor replied: "I can't. I have to."
She was raped twice, let go briefly, then led back into a pitch-black room where she was brutally raped for hours on a cement floor.
She estimates at least 20 other women were gang-raped during the night, including a 15-year-old and a woman already nine months pregnant.
The next day the entire group of 60 was dumped in a forest. They made their way to Travnik, in Muslim and Croat hands. From there Amela went to Zagreb, the Croatian capital, where she was reunited with the female members of her family and now lives on charity.
Although she escaped pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases, her Gynecologist says she suffered permanent internal damage. Her period also stopped last August, due to shock, her doctor says.
"I try to forget about it, but it's impossible to forget," says Amela, breaking into tears for the first time in an hour and a half of reciting her story in a clear, strong voice.
"I was raised in a religious Muslim family. Now I have lost my honor."
Deeply depressed, she says: "sometimes I cry during the night. I can't sleep. I have nightmares." She longs to be reunited with her husband and return to their three-storey house, as long as there are no Serbs in the neighborhood.
For 24-year-old Marija, an ethnic Croat virgin living in northern Bosnia, wartime rape was even more prolonged and brutal. For two months she was held in a Serb brothel-camp and raped daily by five or six men.
Captured during an afternoon walk near her village in northern Bosnia last autumn, Marija was imprisoned in a small room in a house in Obudovac and abused each evening by Serb irregulars. From other rooms she could hear the screams of other women, but never saw them.
When she was released in a prisoner exchange earlier this month, she was pregnant.
An abortion was performed last week, and Marija has gone to live with her sister near Zagreb. Her most fervent wish is that her boyfriend -- serving with the Bosnian Croat forces -- not find out what happened to her, so they can still get married.
Dr. Veselko Grizelj, her gynecologist, shakes his head sadly as he recalls her words.
"I don't think she can go on to have normal sexual relations with her boyfriend," he says.
Aida, a 30-year-old married Muslim woman from the eastern Bosnian town Of Goradze, has already descended into madness as a result of being gang-raped in her own home by marauding Serb soldiers, including two of her neighbors whom she knew by name.
Now just five weeks away from delivering the resulting baby, the dark-haired former factory worker has entered a manic state triggered by relating her story to several journalists in the last week.
Having previously rejected the unborn child, she now talks gaily and incessantly about it as if it were the product of her marriage.
Says her psychiatrist, Skrinjaric: "She's completely unstable, and incapable of thinking clearly. I am afraid of the depressive stage which is inevitable. Then she'll almost certainly reject the baby. And I'm especially worried about what will happen after the birth."
Pregnancy is a unique torture for the rape victims. Every time the fetus kicks in the womb, the unwilling mother relives the horror of its conception. The few babies delivered so far -- "born to be rejected by their own mothers," as one legal expert puts it -- have been put up for adoption.
Doctors treating the rape victims predict married women will not be able to put their marriages back together, and single women in the traditional Muslim society -- stigmatized by rape -- will never marry.
A CALL TO MY MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS:
So I ask…
What happened to you?
I heard you were LIONS.
Your blood is of those who would rise for far less.
Yet today you ignore your SISTERS calls?
Do you not hear?
Your blood is calling you…
How do they dare to touch the Hijab of a Muslim woman?
Remove our sisters Hijabs?
I must be confused!
I thought we were Muslims!
Oh Ummah! Are not you yet wake-up from your slumber?
Are not the screams of your innocents not loud enough yet??
Answer the call of your Innocent
Or Answer the Almighty…
“And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, 'O Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper'?”
[Al-Quran: Chapter: 4, Verse: 75]