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The Bosnian Government vs Angela Jolie

October 15, 2010

News agencies are reporting that Angelina Jolie has been been banned from filming in Bosnia-Hercegovina.  Rumours about Jolie’s latest film project, first  printed in Variety, have been reported in Bosnia-Hercegovina and have inflamed women’s groups.  The government has quickly taken the opportunity to use rape victims to express their outrage.

Now, I haven’t read the script of Jolie’s film, and neither has anybody else outside the project so all I can do when looking at this story is consider the backgrounds of both parties.

Jolie has supported human rights all around the world.  She is  a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR and has visited refugee camps in many countries, including Bosnia-Hercegovina and talked to thousands of victims.  Jolie has used her position to highlight injustice, and her money to help.  Obviously she could have now decided to make an incredibly insensitive film about victims of rape.  The producers say not – “The stories about the film which have recently been circulated are incorrect.”

The government of Bosnia Hercegovina don’t even know how many victims of rape are in their country.  The victims of rape or the children who were conceived from rape have never been supported in any meaningful way.  In 2002 rape victims were offered monentary compensation.  The victims of rape camps were offered half the amount of the victims of war camps.  Because they had been ignored for so many years there were ‘problems’:

In a traditional society with a huge stigma attached to rape it is unusual for women to report it, and at a later stage it is difficult to establish it medically,” says Slobodan Nagradic, Deputy Minister for Human Rights and Refugees. “So now women are coming forward and we have no way of knowing if they have really been raped or not. There are no living eyewitnesses and 10 to 12 years later it is difficult to establish the authenticity of these women’s claims. Many are very poor and may just be doing it for the money.”

There are ‘living eyewitnesses’ – the women and men themselves.  The victims who are now living in poverty as a result of being cast out or as a result of their injuries, both physical and psychological.  A very tiny proportion of rape victims receive this compensation.

Marijana Senjak, a psychologist working for the NGO Medica in Zenica, which assists women who have been abused, says ‘ A lot of politicians have taken advantage of the women’s plight and used the issues of war rape for their own ends. The state has done nothing to organise a unified response to women’s needs.

“It has used war rape as a political tool and a means to get money, nothing else.’

The government of Bosnia-Hercegovina are grasping at straws trying to defend rape victims.  If this film is insensitive to rape victims then Jolie will be judged on that – we have to wait and see.  We already have the evidence of how Bosnian rape victims have been ‘living’ for the last 15 years.

H/T: Women’s Views On News

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 12:17

    This is typical behavior of a government trying to cover something up or divert attention. I wonder what that government is up to.

    • October 17, 2010 00:29

      Quite. I’m wondering what EU/IMF/WB funding reviews are ongoing.

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