More than 20 years after the Bosnian war ended, some survivors of conflict-related sexual violence continue to face stigma or to engage in self-stigmatization. While the problem has been widely acknowledged in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), few efforts have been made to tackle it.

Today, Professor Janine Natalya Clark has launched a new campaign with the non-governmental organization Asocijacija XY Sarajevo that aims to change this. Together they hope to silence stigma around sexual violence by putting the issue into the open and asking society questions like:

  1. Do you know anyone who has experienced sexual violence?
  2. Can you imagine how that person feels?
  3. What if that person was your mother?
  4. What if that person was your father? 
  5. What if it was your brother or sister?
  6. How can society support victims of sexual violence?
  7. We can understand each other if we listen to each other, get to know each other.

The campaign was launched today on social media and will build towards a day of action planned in Sarajevo on 30 January 2020.

Professor Clark said: “Over the years, I have spoken to many women and men who suffered various forms of sexual violence during the Bosnian war. Some argue that the topic has been over-researched. I disagree. There is always scope for innovation and new approaches, and I hope that our ‘Silencing Stigma!’ campaign will have a positive impact on the ground and make a difference. I am honoured to be working with Asocijacija XY and I thank the survivors who have contributed ideas to this campaign.”

This follows a research project, led by  Professor Clark, that has sought to address stigmatization through an emphasis on education and awareness-raising and to contribute to building a more socially-supportive environment for male and female survivors of sexual violence in BiH.