”I am a heroine!” said one of the younger women who testified. She had survived a long period of sexual violence, rape and torture as a teenager in one of the rape camps, a more or less forceful and violent marriage, divorce and a new beginning. ”They took most of my childhood. They took my youth. But the present, and the future are mine.”
Last weekend, May 7-10, Women’s Court in Sarajevo gathered some 500 women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia, to testify and listen to witnesses and their personal life-stories about what happened during the Balkan wars in the 90s and thereafter – and how that affected, and still affects, women’s lives today.
The most powerful thing about the Court was that the women survivors and their testimonies were at the centre. They were made subjects, taking power of the space and of their own stories. The rest of us could only listen, and give our solidarity and standing ovations to their courage.
The process leading up to the Court has taken several years. As far as I know, the idea was first launched in 2001, and the work intensified during 2010. An enormous amount of work has been carried out in the last five years in each respective country as well as at the regional level.