From the early days of the war in Kosovo, testimonies began to emerge from Kosovar women in refugee camps about gang rapes committed by Serbian forces. The estimate is that in 1998 and 1999 as many as 20,000 people were raped. In the immediate aftermath of the war, organizations such as Human Rights Watch tied the systematic nature of the crimes to the broader strategy of the Milošević regime to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of Albanians.
There were also rumors of wartime sexual violence against boys and men, anecdotes and whispers that during interrogations or in detention centers, some men also became victims. It was only after 2018, when survivors of wartime sexual violence became eligible to apply for the status of victims through a government Verification Commission, that male survivors of wartime sexual violence increasingly reported their stories of traumatic experience.
This official recognition and the provision of financial support encouraged dozens of men to seek help at victims’ organizations. The number of female survivors approaching these organizations also increased.
The scale of wartime sexual violence against men and boys is not yet known. Interested parties are waiting until the end of the Verification Commission’s five year mandate before making a broader conclusion about its prevalence. What is clear that similar to the sexual violence against women and girls, these atrocities were also used as an instrument of war against men and boys.
In conversation with survivors, activists and researchers, this story shows how sexual assault occurred in any setting, in homes and in detention centers, whether they were prisons, police stations or improvized set-ups. The story also notes how sexual violence against Kosovar Albanian men and boys in detention centers and prisons predates the war, also occuring during periods of political unrest in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Following the publication of our story on wartime sexual violence against men and boys, we invite you to join us for a discussion to dig deeper into this important issue.
Our discussion will be moderated by K2.0 journalist Dafina Halili. We will be joined by:
- Selvi Izeti, Psychologist (Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims)
- Linda Gusia, Sociologist and Lecturer (University of Prishtina)
Translation into English and Serbian will be provided.
This event is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
Feature Image: Dina Hajrullahu / K2.0.