New Hope Offered to Kosovo’s Wartime Rape Victims

It will be a long time before survivors of wartime rape in Kosovo find lasting closure or healing, Mirlinda Sada says.

The head of Medica Gjakova, an NGO that provides health and economic support for at least 2,000 victims of sexual violence in the 1998-9 war in Kosovo in the western city of Gjakova/Djakovica, will soon start a nationwide project that offers more specialist health support.

The project, which will be implemented in cooperation with the Kosovo University Clinical Centre, will offer targeted psychological and medical services to victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

It is being led by Medica Mondiale with financial support from the German government, and will be implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Kosovo.

"The project provides psycho-social aid to survivors of sexual violence during the conflict and we have signed a memorandum with the Ministry of Health to implement it," Sada told BIRN.

"The health facilities involved in the project have now begun to institutionalize stress and trauma sensitive health services for women and girls affected by sexual and gender-based violence," Sada explained.

She believes the project will contribute to raising international standards when it comes to "improving access to these services in crisis and in post-conflict countries".

Stigma has prevented victims from speaking out:

Art installation 'Thinking of You' in Pristina, Kosovo dedicated to the survivors of sexual violence during the 1998-99 Kosovo War. Photo: EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ

Although no comprehensive statistics on rape as a tool of war exist, current estimates suggest that it happened on a massive scale around Kosovo in the late-1990s and...

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