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The Invisible Ones: Why NGOs in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina do not include children born from war rape in their programmes and projects

By M.K.S. Roosendaal


Non Governmental Organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina rose out of the ground like mushrooms during and after the destructive Balkan war of the early nineties to provide help to the victims and survivors. During the conflict, tens of thousands of women were raped and an unknown number of them birthed children out of these rapes, who hardly ever received any attention from the national media, state policies or NGOs’ programmes and projects. Considering the fact there is and has been a lot of media attention paid to the women who were raped and there are several known organisations that provide them with counselling and medical treatment, even in a patriarchal society as Bosnia and Herzegovina, it became clear that there was no attention whatsoever paid to their children. Wanting to know the reason behind this, I set out to interview NGOs in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to explore why they did not incorporate this group of children in their programmes and projects. From their answers, I was able to establish three different reasons for this, which all revolve around the concepts of silence, denial and stigmatisation. Therefore, in this thesis I explain the special and difficult status that children born from war rape have in the society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, examine the reasons NGOs gave me for not paying attention to this group along the lines of the conspiracies of silence theory and then look towards the future to explore possible ways to incorporate them in society and to what extent this is actually wanted

Topics: children, rape, bosnia and herzegovina, silence, denial, stigma, NGO
Year: 2011
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