TV ANNOUNCER: A report from the United Nations today confirms that rape has been used on a deliberate, horrifying scale in the civil war in Bosnia.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: The international community estimates that Serbs may have systematically raped as many as 20,000 Muslim women as a weapon of war.
TV ANNOUNCER: This woman is one of a number we spoke to from different towns in Bosnia who told us that Serbs had set up brothels in their towns. Younger women were kept there and raped repeatedly.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR : Stories like these have been filtering out for more than six months now as the world stood silently by.
PATRICIA IRELAND: That dismissive attitude that rape is always a byproduct of war and the shrug that goes along with it is the very attitude that we’re here to protest and to draw attention to. The systematic, sadistic sexual violence against the Muslim women has been known for months and months and months and the international community and the powers that be have done nothing to stop it.
PEGGY: Rape has always been an undercurrent of war. People talk about-- raping and pillaging. Um, and it just becomes a phrase that people don't think about. They just think it’s an attack on the civilian population – raping and pillaging.
TV ANNOUNCER: This is the building in Nuremberg where twenty top Nazis are being tried for many crimes.
NUREMBERG PROSECUTOR: The wrongs which we seek to condemn…
PEGGY: I had heard that in Nuremberg, there was a discussion about whether to bring up the subject of rape, because a lot of rapes had occurred during and after the war. And somebody made a comment, "We don't want a bunch of crying women in the courtroom."
If you look at the pictures of Nuremburg, it's mostly men. The defendants ... The judges ... The prosecutors, the defense lawyers … In that environment, women aren't given a place at the table even as a witness in many cases.
PEGGY: In the maybe 50 years since Nuremberg, a lot of things have changed. There are more women in the profession - prosecutors, judges -- people who are dealing with the witnesses and saying, "This is an important issue. We should talk about it." It's worth talking about, and it's worth getting it out there, so at least, even if we're not prosecuting every single rape that occurs, that we're acknowledging that this is what's happening, and women's experience during wartime.
NARRATOR: In December of 1995, the warring parties in Bosnia came to Paris to sign an American-brokered deal that put an end to three and a half years of fighting.
In the aftermath, details of atrocities in places like Prijedor, Visegrad, and Srebrenica came into gruesome focus.
NARRATOR: And Foca, which had been sealed off from the tribunal investigators behind the wall of war, finally became a reality as they made their way through the ravaged city.
THAPA: It’s like stepping into a painting that you’ve heard about. But you actually start walking in that painting.
NARRATOR: What they found was a fractured, inhospitable place. Half its residents – some 20,000 Muslims – were simply gone. All 14 of their mosques, reduced to rubble. They even tried to erase the name by calling the town Srbinje, meaning “place of the Serbs.”
NARRATOR: Under the protection of U.N. forces, the investigators documented the places they had heard about in the testimony of survivors; Buk Bijela, Miljevena Hotel, Zaga’s house, Klanfa’s … …Partizan …. Now crime scenes.
NARRATOR: The physical evidence they collected in Foca convinced the team that they could build a case to prove that an organized campaign of rape had indeed been used as an instrument of terror.
HILDEGARD: It has a huge impact on the entire family, and the entire community. If people hear of rapes in the neighbor village, they, they flee.
REFIK: The rapes were used for not only the immediate impact that they had on women but the long term destruction of, of the soul of the communities.
NARRATOR: What happened to the women and girls in Foca had been repeated in besieged towns all across the country. One Bosnian investigation alone collected over 10,000 statements from women who reported being raped during the war. Official United Nations estimates put the number of victims at 20,000 …others say it is likely 50,000 or more.
NARRATOR: In previous war crimes trials, these rapes – when charged at all - were simply listed under an umbrella of offences like “crimes against humanity” or “inhumane treatment.”
NARRATOR: The Hague Tribunal took the historic step of issuing an indictment devoted exclusively to rape and other sexual crimes.
HILDEGARD: We took the position that’s important to actually move forward on this sector, and to develop international law on sexual assault. And we prevailed, and yeah, it was charged as it was.
TRIBUNAL BAILIFF: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is now in session.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: For the first time in history, an international court is hearing a case about camps set up specifically to rape women...
NPR: Three Bosnian Serb defendants are accused of systematically raping Muslim women and reducing women and girls to sexual slavery…
NPR: Defendants Zoran Vukovic, Radomir Kovac, and Dragoljub Kunarac, petty commanders in Bosnian Serb paramilitary units are accused of helping imprison Foca’s women and children …
PEGGY: Day One was a big deal.
NPR: …Of committing rape often …
PEGGY: There was this sense of--finally, it's happening.
NPR: All three defendants have pled not guilty.
REFIK: Being able to see these people being led into the court room provided me with some sense that everything is normal in the world. That if these people are arrested and they are being led by the guards and put on trial that we still function as human beings.
NARRATOR: Refik Hodzic was responsible for publicizing the Tribunal’s work throughout the former Yugoslavia. He was a teenager when the war broke out in 1992, and was sent to family in New Zealand for safe-keeping. He returned to Bosnia a journalist and reported on war-time atrocities before coming to The Hague.
REFIK: When I got to the Tribunal I was almost a junkie for going to the court room. Because at that time, the Tribunal was the institution crucial to the hope of recovery of Bosnian society.
TEJ: Number 16 itself is where Mr. Kunarac and his soldiers stayed …
TEJ: Not only was it one of the first trials at the Yugoslavia tribunal but it was the first of this kind. You know where it’s only sex crimes that are being alleged.
NARRATOR: The success of the case hinged on the participation of 16 women who had agreed to come to The Hague to tell their stories. Their testimonies would embody the experience of the hundreds of women held captive in Foca.
HILDEGARD: I don't know whether you have ever testified in front of the court. I did. Not here, but in my own country. And I was so nervous, although I was a prosecutor. It's-- it's-- an experience that's not easy. Nowhere. And for no one. In particular, not speaking about sexual assaults suffered -- in front of an audience, mostly males.
NARRATOR: One by one, as their days in court approached, many of the Foca victims who had agreed to testify informed the prosecutors that they were having second thoughts about coming to The Hague.
TEJ: It was fear. It’s fear. Fear of retaliation, fear of ‘what happens if I go public with this story’ … and just not wanting to re-live it.
PEGGY: I never lived through what they lived through. I never saw any member of my family killed. I’ve never been raped. I’ve never seen my house destroyed. I’ve never seen my country fall apart. And so the best you could do was to say “It must be very difficult for you.” So – and, “I appreciate your helping here. And let me -- tell me what I can do to help you.”
NARRATOR: In the end, all of the witnesses scheduled to appear decided they would take their place on the stand.
TEJ: I think it was a desire for justice, even if it’s a part of their lives that they want to forget about. But it is knowing deep down ‘that’s what I have to do. That’s what I want to do, it’s what I have to do. I’m afraid to do it. I’m scared to death to do it, but that’s my end. That’s my end.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.