None of them completed education, none of them were able to get a job, so their life passed totally marked by this traumatic event.” It’s often not until the women receive some sort of financial compensation for their trauma and they are no longer economically dependent on their husbands that they feel strong enough to speak out for the first time.
The women who find the courage still often face a culture of shame but they have a much greater chance of starting the healing process.
“Many of the girls wore their father’s big shirts to cover their bodies. The girls would come back the next morning totally exhausted but no one would talk about it. We all knew silently what had happened but no one discussed it.” No one knows how many girls and women were sexually abused during the genocide but the figures are huge. Most of the rapists have since faced no prosecution or punishment but many of the victims still regularly see their rapists in the local neighbourhood.
If you looked feminine or if they knew you previously and wanted sex they would just take you. Dr Branka Antic-Stauber currently counsels 150 women, many of whom have only recently revealed they were raped.
For the vast majority of the victims, the abuse is then compounded by a second trauma.
“Ninety-five percent of the women are now victims of domestic abuse,” says Branka, “because their husbands cannot accept what happened to their wives.
She says some of the women have tracked the perpetrators down on Facebook. One of my women knows the man’s birthday and the names and ages of his kids.” Branka treats some who had children from their rapes.
Branka believes much of that is due to a lack of political appetite: “Justice is so difficult to achieve, especially now that we have three divided political parties.
“None have met their fathers nor have any of the men admitted what they did.
If the rapist was to recognise the child he would recognise the crime and if that were the case he would be brought to court and sentenced for his crime.
A number of the Dutch soldiers stationed there have since committed suicide.
Others have since returned to Srebrenica to face up to their feelings of guilt.