A while back a European Commission of Inquiry headed by
Dame Anne Warburton made a study in the former Yugoslavia
and reported that 20,000 women had been raped. New York
Times correspondent John Burns puts the number at 50,000.
Michigan law professor Catharine A. MacKinnon, who is repre-
senting Bosnian victims pro bono, puts the total at “more than
50,000” women and girls raped, and another 100,000 women
and children killed.
The rapes that occurred in Bosnia during the war were assaults on individuals” bodies and selves. The purpose was not just to harm a woman or young girl’s body, although this was one purpose. The purpose was also to destroy a person’s sense of self as a free and self-conscious person. The damage that rape does to the self, while sometimes invisible, takes longer to heal than the damage done to the body, although the harm to the body and the harm to the self are both acts of injustice.
In Bosnia, rape had an even more wretched significance. The purpose was to destroy the woman’s relation to her family and community, in part by provoking her family and community to reject her. The rapes sought to destroy the person’s sense of identity and connectedness to
An earlier version of this chapter appeared in Sociologija nakon Bosne and Sociology after Bosnia and Kosovo: Recovering Justice.