Perspectives | Sexual Violence

Open letter to Minister Arban Abrahi and the government of Kosovo

By - 16.11.2016

It’s time to end the talk and finally compensate the victims of conflict related sexual violence.

During World War II, renowned Norwegian author, Arnulf Overland (1889-1968) wrote what was probably his most famous poem: “You dare not sleep!” A part of it goes like this:

“You must not stay seated in your house,
Saying: It’s depressing, they’re poor and lonely.
You cannot allow it! You dare not, in any way.
Accept atrocities inflicted upon others!
I cry with my last breath:
You dare not rest, stay and forget!”

This section of the poem can be applied to the situation in which victims of wartime sexual violence find themselves in.

Almost 17 years have passed since the end of the war and no tangible action has been undertaken for the registered group of female victims of war. Because of the patriarchal society in which they live, and because of the existence of this inhumane approach towards them, victims of wartime sexual violence are treated in a degrading way. Being completely aware of this, politicians have done just about nothing, ever since the end of the war, to offer economic relief for these women and their children.

The circumstances

The minister of labour and social welfare, Arban Abrashi, is continuing to follow the trend of his predecessors in the preceding governments of the past 17 years, by setting up meetings with NGOs, meetings the agendas of which appear to only involve a continuous postponement of any tangible and immediate action that would benefit female victims of the 1998-99 war. More pain is inflicted upon these victims by the incompetent and negligent behavior of politicians and the government.

The idea of creating another new committee for cases of raped women in wartime will in reality be a new form of harassment for them.

There seems to be a continuance of the absolute absence of women’s rights throughout the last 17 years, whereas politicians have benefited from aid given by Western countries, aid that enabled them to obtain high positions in society. One of the conditions for obtaining these positions was the inclusion of equal rights for all citizens, regardless of gender. It seems they have ignored their obligation towards female victims of war, while they have offered aid to male victims. This kind of discrimination is cruel and disgusting.

Equality for women must not be absent in Kosovo. The idea of creating another new committee for cases of raped women in wartime will in reality be a new form of harassment for them. The group of 423 women has been interviewed and examined by doctors in hospitals. This information is valuable, so there is no need to inflict more grief upon these women.

An immediate solution is needed

In the past I have suggested an immediate pension of 500 euros per month, until politicians find the time to come to a decision for the most vulnerable victims of war. If any politician thinks that this is too large a sum, I can assure you that it is not. These women have not only been raped during the conflict, but they have also been exposed to other forms of crimes by war criminals, and for this reason the Kosovo government can and must seek compensation for them; in this way they can receive reparations in the form of a war pension that should have been implemented.

Up until now, in our politicians we have witnessed a frightening absence of political and practical skills that would benefit the people they serve.

The responsibility to act

While I am still breathing, my aim is to pursue you, Minister Arban Abrashi and the government, until you bring justice for these female victims of war. As you know, I have spent the last 15 years of my life helping the people of Kosovo by documenting war crimes, visually and in writing.

Currently I am educating the Serb population, especially the new generation, regarding events that occurred in 1998-99 in Kosovo, and the need to find lost persons of the wartime. There are families in Kosovo and Serbia that are still missing their loved ones.

Feature Image: Majlinda Hoxha / K2.0.