news 04 Dec 12

War Rape Victims Neglected in Croatia, Warns NGO

War rape victims are neglected in Croatia, the human rights NGO Documenta warned, requesting changes to the law and changes in the social attitudes to restore dignity to victims.

Boris Pavelic
Zagreb

Marking the Days of Activism against Gender Violence [November 25 to December 10], Documenta have issued a statement on Monday requesting changes to the law on the rights of army and civil invalids of war, in which the victims of war time sexual violence would be explicitly mentioned.

Documenta also request an overall national program and the found for compensation of civil victims of war.

Protection during criminal procedures, psychological support and medical care is also needed for war rape victims, Documenta emphasised.

The absence of state support is one the main reasons why exact numbers of war rape victims remains unknown, the NGO said.

Some of the other reasons why the victims keep silent are trauma and fear of the social stigma, the NGO added.

"Although the Croatian judiciary regards war rape as a war crime, systemic support to victims is needed, which would assure that the victims see their testimony as a positive and strengthening experience, which enables effective prosecution and adequate punishing of the perpetrators", Documenta said.

According to the data from the Croatian prosecutions, 67 wartime rapes were classified as war crimes. In fifty-seven cases the perpetrators are known to the prosecution.

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