By Dr Olivera Simic
Griffith Law School
The condemnation of wartime sexual violence as a gross violation of human rights has received widespread support. While rape and other forms of sexual violence have attracted considerable local and international attention, this often excludes wartime sexual violence among women belonging to so-called ‘perpetrator’ war-torn nations. My new book explores the silence surrounding women’s experiences of wartime sexual violence within academic, legal and public discourses. I argue that the international criminal law and feminist legal discourse on wartime sexual violence can construct a problematic victim hierarchy that excludes and misrecognises certain women’s experiences of sexual violence during and after armed conflict.
The book focuses on the experiences of Bosnian Serb women, where the collapse of the former Yugoslavia led to brutal war and gross human rights violations throughout the 1990s. Two decades after the war, women in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still facing the legacies of the violence in the 1990s. Through this case Simic argues that while all women survivors of rape face problems of stigma, shame and lack of political visibility, their legal and symbolic status differ according to their ethno-national identity.
Drawing on interviews with Bosnian Serb women survivors of rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, feminist activists, local media, documentary and archival sources, the book examines ‘post-conflict justice’ as it is seen, lived and interpreted by women who belong to ‘perpetrator’ nations and will be of great interest and use to researchers, students and practitioners within post-conflict law and justice, international criminal law, security studies and gender studies.