The Handbook is primarily intended for training professionals in institutions/services for free legal aid with the aim of raising the level of their expertise and skills in providing legal aid to survivors of war rape and sexual violence
In the past period, and based on the experience of working with and supporting survivors of war rape and sexual violence, the Foundation of Local Democracy, in cooperation with competent institutions and non-governmental organizations, created a Handbook for providing free legal aid to women victims of war in institutions/services for free legal aid. The Handbook is intended for all officials who work to provide legal assistance to this category of population in order to improve their skills, but also to establish a harmonized and unified approach and support to survivors, and to facilitate access to and exercise of legally recognized rights.
During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, systemic sexual abuse, rape, and other forms of sexual violence were committed. The number of victims of wartime sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to UN estimates, ranges from 20,000 to 50,000 women, men and children. Although almost 30 years have passed, many victims have not yet spoken about the crimes they survived. In Bosnia and Herzegovina in society, there is a stigma of survivors, many social stereotypes, and negative attitudes that often prevail in public opinion, which is an obstacle for survivors of war rape and sexual violence to realize their rights.
- For many years, the Local Democracy Foundation, through cooperation with institutions and non-governmental organizations, which gather and represent this population, has been working to improve the position of women victims of the war in Bosnian society and the institutional systemic solution to their needs. Through many years of experience and work with women victims of war, we noticed the problem of the lack of an adequate system for helping, supporting, and protecting victims, as well as the problem of lack of coordination between institutions, i.e. their services, which further encouraged us to prepare and develop a Handbook for providing free legal aid for women victims of war in institutes/services for free legal aid - says Jasmina Mujezinović, director of the Local Democracy Foundation.
Although a legal framework has been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support persons who have the status of a special category of war victims, i.e. victims of wartime rape and sexual violence, it is important to emphasize that this right is exercised within the framework of the status recognition procedure from which various rights derive.
- In the course of achieving their status and rights, these victims often face various challenges, most often for the reason that they are ignorant parties to the proceedings. Therefore, in order to more effectively support these victims and increase the capacity of competent institutions that provide support to this population, a Handbook on providing free legal support to survivors of war rape and sexual violence was created. Using this Handbook for educational processes as well as promotion processes directly contributes to the establishment of a harmonized and unique approach in providing legal support to survivors that will facilitate victims' access to and exercise of legally recognized rights - explains Saliha Đuderija, one of the authors of the Handbook.
In the coming period, the Local Democracy Foundation will organize a series of training modules for professionals - providers of legal support and representatives from civil society organizations, in order to improve the process of providing free legal aid to survivors.
The handbook on providing free legal aid to women victims of war was created within the project "Get up! For greater social protection", with the financial support of three partners from Germany: the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Baden-Württemberg Foundation and the association AMICA e.V.