In the News

Dealing with the Legacy of Sexual Violence in Bosnia

13 December 2010
Author: UNFPA

The war in Bosnia was the first time the United Nations had been faced with mass rape as a weapon of war. Fifteen years after the Dayton Accords peace agreement, Sophie Arie talks to doctors in Sarajevo and discovers a culture of denial

In the summer of 1992, Sreko Simic, one of Bosnia’s leading gynaecologists, worked without electricity, anaesthetics, or oxygen and with only a skeleton staff, to keep delivering babies at Sarajevo’s University Hospital while the city was under siege.

The number of pregnancies his department dealt with dropped dramatically, and the numbers asking for abortions rose, he recalls. And then in the late summer of 1992, some months after the war began, the women who had been raped started to appear.

“Most of them came alone, at night, so no one would see them,” the 83 year old gynaecologist recalls.

“They were silent and full of shame and hatred. Often we would treat them but they would not speak. Some asked for abortions. Others gave birth and then rejected the child.”

Read the whole story by Sophie Arie in BMJ (British Medical Journal)
The story references the UNFPA State of World Population 2010 report

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Population : 3.5 mil
Fertility rate
1.4
Maternal Mortality Ratio
11
Contraceptives prevalence rate
49
Population aged 10-24
17%