Genocide in Bosnia
The Bosnian genocide is often referred to as the hidden genocide, yet it had catastrophic effects on humanity. Over 100,000 people were killed and it displaced millions of people. The genocide occurred between 1992 and 1995. The Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was made up of six nations under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. Once Tito passed away in 1990, there was a power vacuum, and politicians began a nationalistic campaign pitting Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks against each other. Hence, the beginning of an “ethnic cleansing” war (Campbell, 2003 p.511). Once Milosevic was the President of Republic of Serbia, he encouraged formation of violent uprisings by Serb nationals. Milosevic was interested in creating an ethnically pure Serb nation. Milosevic’s ambition worried the nations in the federal government; hence Croatia and Slovenia declared themselves independent from the republic. However, Croatia was not allowed to leave because it had 12% of the Serbian population. Hence Croatia became a battlefield between 1991- 1996. Bosnia-Herzegovina watched the horrors in Croatia as they worried about themselves being the next victim. Bosnia-Herzegovina held a referendum in 1992 and declared itself free from the republic. The Serbs in Bosnia were not happy about it, and they began fighting with the support of the Yugoslavian National Army. Bosnia and Croatia lacked weapons to defend themselves because the UN had enacted an embargo, thus they were victims of an endless cycle of violence, displacement and death (Schott, 2011 p.19). Serbian plan of attack entailed the following steps; concentration, decapitation, separation, evacuation ad liquidation. During concentration stage, Serbian soldiers would warn Serbians to leave the town they were about to attack and surround the city with artillery fire. The second stage involved execution of the town’s leaders, military and intelligence. On the third stage, Serbian soldiers would separate women, children and old people from “fighting group”. Women, children and old people would be taken to concentration camps, while the young people were executed. This brings me to the subject of this essay. Women were targeted in specific ways when compared to men. Unlike, the young male soldiers who were executed, women lived longer to and experience untold suffering under the Serb soldiers. Women were interchangeably used by soldiers as sexual trophies (Lentin, 1997). This essay analyses the genocide on a gendered frame, so as to shine light on the awful atrocities women faced in the hands of Serbian militia. From a gender frame, sexual violence in war cannot be reduced to psychological attributes of the perpetrators. Genocidal rape has to be analyzed in terms of social structures. Rape in Bosnia was systematic, since it was planned. Bosnian genocide is the only genocide that women bodies were used as a battlefield. This genocide trampled upon all women rights. The Serbian militants lacked respect and sympathy for women. The Yugoslav army, Bosnian Serb forces and Chetniks came up with a sexual violence campaign against Croats and Muslim women. They killed, imprisoned, terrorized and raped women in the hope that they would leave and never come back. The attack on women was not an accident. It was premeditated as a lot of soldiers took part in sexual violence campaign. Their commanders were aware of what was going on, and they turned a blind eye. The attackers used the Ram & Brana plan of attack (1991). The plan said that successful attacks should be the one carried out on the enemy’s weakest point. The weakest point during wars is usually women and children. By attacking the weakest point, they were able to spread panic and fear in the population hence Croats and Bosnians could only run away for safety (Abreu, 2005 p.5). Since this was an “ethnic cleansing war”, the Serbian armed forces believed that sexual violence against women was an act of tainting...
References: Abreu, Veronica. (2005) Women’s Bodies as Battlefields In The Former Yugoslavia: An Argument For The Prosecution Of Sexual Terrorism As Genocide And For The Recognition of Genocidal Sexual Terrorism As A Violation Of Jusc Cogens Under International Law. The Georgetown Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. V1:1
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