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Angelina Jolie Tackles the Issue of Wartime Rape

16. February 2012.00:00
A Hollywood movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey” and the documentary “Ending Impunity”, both dealing with rape during the war in Bosnia, had their premiers in February.

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Angelina Jolie, director of “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, says she wanted to draw the attention to the fact that, according to the UN Commission dealing with wartime sexual violence, about 50 thousands of women and hundreds of men were raped and sexually abused during the war in Bosnia.

“Working on this movie has meant so much to me. I am glad to have selected this topic for my first movie. I love Bosnia,” Jolie said during the premiere in Sarajevo on February 14.

While Jolie’s directorial debut has caused controversy, the documentary “Ending Impunity: Sexual Abuse before the Hague Tribunal” had its premiere at the Hague without much pomp.

The documentary, directed by Rob Barsony, featuring testimonies of survivors of wartime sexual abuse and interviews with senior officials of the Hague Tribunal, is set to arrive in the former Yugoslav countries soon.

“It is extremely important to present the facts and truth, which have been determined at the trials before the Hague Tribunal. The Tribunal has processed a large number of cases and sentenced a significant number of individuals for the crimes of rape and sexual abuse,” said Nerma Jelacic, spokesperson of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

Despite being afraid for their lives and the lives of their family members, numerous witnesses found the courage to testify before the Hague Tribunal about the horrors of rape.

The documentary features a Bosniak woman from Foca, who testified about having been raped at the age of 15.

“After having finished it, I mean rape, he sat down and lit a cigarette. He said he might be able to do more, much more, but he would not do it for the time being, because I was of the same age as his daughter,” she said during her testimony.

Another interviewee featured in the documentary, a Serb woman from the Konjic area, stated that she could not believe that such barbaric acts could happen at the end of the 20th century.

The Hague Tribunal played a historical role in the criminal prosecution of sexual abuse committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia and paved the way for other courts throughout the world to process such crimes.

“Prior to the establishment of the ICTY, where it was included among crimes against humanity, rape had been ignored in all international instruments,” judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, former ICTY President, said.

“I believe that what the ICTY has done, firstly, by including rape among crimes against humanity and, secondly, by criminally prosecuting the perpetrators and developing practices against sexual abuse, has led to a situation whereby the leaders in those conflicts were warned that the rules had changed. This is a significant progress,” McDonald adds.

Since the beginning of its work, the ICTY has charged 78, out of the total of 161 indictees, with sexual crimes.

The Tribunal has processed cases of brutal sexual abuse, like rape of children, women and men, forced incest and mutilation of genital organs.M.H.

This post is also available in: Bosnian