BOS­NIA-HERZE­GOV­INA

The Week (US) - - 14 News -

The mass rape of women dur­ing the Balkan wars of the 1990s has tragic fall­out to this day, said Char­lotte Dob­son. Mil­i­tants, mostly Serbs, raped some 20,000 women, mostly Bos­nian Mus­lims, dur­ing years of civil war. Thou­sands of women were kept in rape camps, where sol­diers at­tacked them night af­ter night; many oth­ers were raped in their homes, in front of hus­bands and chil­dren, as a ter­ror tac­tic. It’s un­known how many ba­bies were born of th­ese rapes, be­cause some were killed at birth and many oth­ers were aban­doned in or­phan­ages. A few, like Le­jla Da­mon, were adopted abroad. Da­mon was brought to the U.K. as a tod­dler by jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the war. Her birth mother was “so trau­ma­tized” that she couldn’t bear to look at the child. A few years ago, Da­mon, now 25, be­gan writ­ing to her birth mother through the Bos­nian Em­bassy, and fi­nally met her last year. She found a woman liv­ing in poverty, like most Bos­nian rape vic­tims, be­cause the gov­ern­ment re­quires proof of rape be­fore award­ing com­pen­sa­tion, and most women can’t or won’t re­veal their painful his­tory. “Ob­vi­ously I’m proof of that for my mum,” Da­mon said. “She has re­ceived her [com­pen­sa­tion] now. I hope it can give just a lit­tle bit of com­fort in her life.”

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