Bosnian theater play tackles taboo of wartime rape

A new play to be performed across Bosnia and Herzegovina attempts to tackle the stigma associated with survivors of wartime rape, which remains a controversial issue to this day. 

Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Bosnian theater play tackles taboo of wartime rape - NewsMavens
Bosnian building destroyed by war, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

According to the director of the play "Yellow Boots" (Anes Osmic) the stigma surrounding wartime rape survivors is still an issue in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rape survivors might still be keeping their experience a secret from family members or, if they acknowledge their trauma, they can face deep prejudice, such as being told they asked for it or being spat at in the street.

According to the team engaged in producing the play, society still has to confront how widespread rape was during the war, and admit that it was even used as a weapon of war.   

The response to the play is reportedly confirming its necessity. After the performance, people are coming forward to share their experiences, and getting involved in a dialogue that might contribute to their healing. 

Details from the story:

  • According to data from the United Nations in Bosnia, around 50,000 women, girls, men and boys were raped or sexually assaulted during the 1992-95 war. During this war, rape was consciously used as a weapon of war.
  • A study published by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA in June 2015 said that wartime rape survivors are “marginalized in every aspect of life”.
  • The play is based on stories from all three ethnic groups in the country -- Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats -- and the performing group is equally diverse, too.
  • The premiere was held on December 8 at the Sarajevo War Theatre, and it was then staged in December 18 in East Sarajevo, in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska. It will continue to show across the country this year. 
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