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Remembering Srebrenica

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Remembering Srebrenica, genocide, rape, Rape Crisis, Srebrenica Memorial Day, cards‘We cannot truly stand up to hatred unless we stand up to misogyny in our society.’

In the course of just one week in July 1995, 8372 mostly Muslim men and boys were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces in an act of genocide at a place called Srebrenica.

This was the final act in a genocidal plan aimed at Bosnian Muslims between 1992 and 1995.

Among the victims of this plan were the 20,000 to 50,000 Bosnian women and girls, who were subjected to appalling sexual violence.

The exact number of these victims is not known, because many have remained silent, through stigma, shame and fear.

But the Bosnian women did break the silence around the sexual violence used against them as a weapon of war.

And because of the courage of the women who dared to speak out about their experiences, or who chose to face the stigma and shame and speak up on behalf of both themselves and their sisters who could not, and who fought for justice, rape was for the first time prosecuted under international criminal law.

The theme of Srebrenica Memorial Day 2018 is Acts of Courage.

Rape Crisis England & Wales joined with Remembering Srebrenica in honouring the courage of ordinary people who resisted hatred and division.

Rape Crisis England & Wales and its member Rape Crisis Centres have organised and participated in activities and events to show solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence in Bosnia. Survivors who are still struggling to get support and still fighting for the perpetrators to be held to account.

And throughout Remembering Srebrenica Memorial Week, 8-15 July, survivors of sexual violence from Rape Crisis Centres will be sending specially designed cards to Bosnian women survivors, as an act of woman-to-woman solidarity.

Di Whitfield, co-chair of Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: “The systematic and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war was one of the brutal legacies of the Bosnian conflict.

“We at Rape Crisis England & Wales know very well the devastation that sexual violence causes to individuals, families and communities.

“As in Bosnia, all too often perpetrators are walking free and the survivors do not get the support they deserve. We too work with survivors who often struggle to talk about their experiences due to shame, stigma, being blamed and not believed.

“We commend Remembering Srebrenica’s important work, and agree that we cannot truly stand up to hatred unless we stand up to misogyny in our society.”

Dr Waqar Azmi, chair of Remembering Srebrenica, said: “Our theme this year is ‘Acts of Courage’ which serves as a reminder that hope and the common bonds of humanity can triumph in the darkest of times.

“We are all invited to draw strength and inspiration from those who, during the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Europe’s worst atrocity since the Second World War, were bold enough to resist an ideology of division, protect their neighbours and speak out for truth and justice.

“The baton of courage has now been passed on.  It is up to us to learn the lessons from Srebrenica.”

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