Thank Woman Who Helped Make Rape an International War Crime

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Target: Nusreta Sivac, a survivor of a Bosnian rape camp

Goal: Thank Ms. Sivac for her tireless work to have rape declared an international war crime

Until recently, rape was thought of as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of war—and then Nusreta Sivac, a Bosnian judge who was imprisoned in a “rape camp” for two months during the Bosnian War, made it her mission to achieve justice for herself and other survivors. Today, many of Sivac’s rapists and torturers have been brought to justice, and rape is considered an international war crime—no longer “collateral damage suffered by women and overshadowed by massacres” but an unacceptable and punishable offense in its own right. Sign the petition and thank Sivac for her exhaustive and comprehensive work on behalf of rape survivors everywhere.

When she was imprisoned along with three dozen other women in a Bosnian concentration camp during the war, Sivac often wished for death to end her suffering. She and the other women in the camp were raped nightly, and during the day they were tasked with cleaning bloody interrogation rooms where other prisoners had been tortured and killed. Sivac swore that she would commit the names and faces of her rapists to memory, and if she made it out alive she would ensure that they were brought to justice.

And she did just that—Sivac and Jadranka Cigelj, a prosecutor who was one of Sivac’s pre-war colleagues and another victim of the camp, spent years tracking down survivors, conducting interviews, and compiling files of information, which they then brought to The Hague and presented to the International Tribunal for War Crimes in Former Yugoslavia. Rape, which had been condemned in war since the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949, had never been the sole charge on an indictment before. Sivac and Cigelj’s evidence changed that, and in 1995 eight men became the first war criminals in history to be convicted solely of rape.

Sivac’s work necessarily has repercussions outside of war zones; making rape a charge that can stand on its own, rather than one that is simply tacked onto a string of other offenses, sends a clear message that rape is never inevitable and never acceptable, no matter what the circumstances. Sign the petition and thank Sivac for her brave work on behalf of rape survivors—and women—everywhere.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Sivac,

I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your tireless work on behalf of rape survivors, not only in Bosnia, but around the world. Your exhaustive efforts to bring rapists and war criminals to justice have sent a clear message to the world at large: rape is never inevitable and never acceptable, and those who commit such heinous acts of violence and degradation must be held accountable.

Your work has made an enormous difference not only to women directly affected by the Bosnian War or even wars in general, but also to anyone who has ever been affected by rape, either directly or through the experiences of a friend or loved one. The use of rape as the sole charge on an indictment for war crimes makes it clear that rape is not something to be tolerated, if regretted. It is something to be condemned and abhorred, no matter the circumstances, and it is something that must be taken seriously and punished. It is not a “women’s issue”; it is an issue that affects the entire human race. And thanks to you, we are that much closer to achieving justice for rape survivors and women everywhere.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mikhail Evstafiev via Wikimedia Commons

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