Children born as a result of wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina were given the status of civilian victims of war by the decision of the Brcko District Assembly.
After many years of struggle for recognition of their existence, status, and recognition of the consequences that children born as a result of wartime rape have to deal with, these children, for the first time after the war, achieved legal recognition as civilian victims of war.
The Assembly of the Brcko District of BiH took the first significant step in BiH by enabling them to recognize their status within the framework of the Law on Civilian Victims of War, which was adopted yesterday. This sent a strong message to the children born because of the war that they are not forgotten.
“We welcome this significant step forward, the value of which is primarily reflected in the symbolic act of the final legal and social recognition of children born as a result of war as a special category of civilian victims of war. This represents a precedent both for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for Europe, while at the global level it is among the first recognitions of this kind,” said Adrijana Hanusic Becirovic, senior legal advisor of TRIAL International, an organization that, together with the association “Forgotten Children of the War”, advocated recognition of the status of children born as a result of the war in BiH in the past period.
By recognizing the status of children born as a result of war, Brcko District of BiH was the first to give a positive response to international recommendations for this category of victims, since recently the Secretary General of the United Nations and several UN mechanisms for the protection of human rights called on states to respond to the needs of children born as a result of war. In addition, this recognition is in accordance with the recent decision of the International Criminal Court, which established that children born as a result of rape and sexual slavery are direct victims of these crimes and that they have the right to reparations.
“This is really a big step forward in the fight for human rights, this is really a precedent both for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for other conflict and post-conflict countries. We, as members of the Forgotten Children of War Association, are very proud of our struggle, our voice contributed to such an important and positive story. We are glad that we contributed to BiH being the first in something very important and positive. We thank the Brcko District of BiH for passing this Law, and we believe that this same Law must be adopted at the level of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as at the level of Republika Srpska,” emphasized Ajna Jusic, president of the “Forgotten Children of the War” association.
Children born because of the war were almost never talked about for years, as evidenced by the fact that even today there are no official data on the exact number of these children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recognition of the status of children born due to war has multiple significance, both for the children themselves and for their mothers, survivors of wartime sexual violence, since these children and their mothers often face problems related to their identity, stigmatization, marginalization and isolation. Their mothers often raised them in difficult socioeconomic conditions, without any additional support.
However, the Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to respond to the needs of the victims to a significant extent with this Law, since it did not recognize the additional rights of children born as a result of the war, such as priority in education and scholarships. In addition, civilian victims of war, including victims of sexual violence, are not granted the right to spa treatment and medical rehabilitation and priority in exercising the right to health care, despite the recommendations of the TRIAL International organization.