Zenica | Bosnia’s Deepest Wound

Fifteen years after the end of the Bosnian war, rape survivors wait for justice and struggle for a normal life

01 April 2010
Emina Rahmanovic was 16 when Croat soldiers raped her during the war in the Balkans. She has struggled for a normal life since the attack.
© RAJESHREE SISODIA FOR THE CARAVAN
Emina Rahmanovic was 16 when Croat soldiers raped her during the war in the Balkans. She has struggled for a normal life since the attack.
© RAJESHREE SISODIA FOR THE CARAVAN

EMINA RAHMANOVIC RARELY LEAVES her tiny apartment on the fourth floor of a non-descript block. She spends most of her days in bed. “Yesterday was the first time in seven years that I stepped on snow,” says the 33-year-old from her home in the central Bosnian city of Zenica. “I have this enormous sense of fear.” She takes around 18 pills a day. The medication helps mitigate her depression and chronic back pain.

Like an estimated 20,000 men, women and girls, Rahmanovic was raped during the Bosnian civil war. The war lasted from 1992 to 1995. Though the war was fought along ethnic lines—when Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats all took up arms—the systematic sexual violence overwhelmingly affected Bosniak women like Rahmanovic.

Her ordeal began when she was separated from her family near the Bosnian-Croat border in late 1992. Stranded at a military barracks in the city of Travnik, Rahmanovic was raped by Croat soldiers in early 1993. She was 16.

Rajeshree Sisodia is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. She specialises in human rights issues.

Keywords: war trauma Emina Rahmanovic rape Rajashree Sisodia FBiH Esma Palic Zenica Bosnia
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