By Jack Robinson/
Vasfije Krasniqi Goodman told a special session of the Kosovo Assembly dedicated to raising public awareness about survivors of wartime sexual violence on Monday that victims needed protection and support but instead have been stigmatised by society for more than two decades.
“Our country, our society stigmatises us,” Krasniqi Goodman said.
“Where were you 21 years ago? Were you hiding in the attic while the woman was raped? Where did you find the courage to abandon her?” she demanded.
“Where are the sons who kicked their mother out of the home after she was raped? They kept their wife, because they didn’t know that their wife was raped as well. Where were you when Jeta, a seven-year-old, was raped? And now what are you doing to make it easier for us? All of Kosovo society should be ashamed, you who victimise us every day,” she continued.
Krasniqi Goodman is one of the few victims of wartime sexual violence in Kosovo to speak publicly about how she was raped by Serbian policemen during the war, when she was 16 years old. Two former Serbian policemen were acquitted of raping her by Kosovo’s Supreme Court in 2014.
Last year Krasniqi Goodman also testified at the US House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee that Washington should do more to hold Serbia accountable for wartime crimes including rape.
She told the lawmakers in the Kosovo Assembly on Monday that the time had come for women to get the justice that was denied to her.
“You have to change because we have had enough. We do not forgive you for what you have been doing to us for the last 20 years,” she said.
Opening the special session, the speaker of the Assembly, Vjosa Osmani, spoke of the “unforgivable error” of “inaction, prejudice, stigma and distrust” leading to survivors of sexual violence being silenced.
“Women in Kosovo, who have been subjected to vicious violence by the genocidal Serbian state apparatus, have been denied the right to testify about these crimes, both due to stigmatisation and lack of effective justice,” Osmani stated.
MP Saranda Bogjuevci from the governing Vetevendosje [Self-Determination] party proposed that there should be a day of remembrance for victims of sexual violence in Kosovo.
“Justice is key for the survivors and recognition of their suffering is justice,” Bogujevci said.
She suggested that “April 14, the date Vasfije was raped, [should] be the date we remember the victims of sexual violence in Kosovo”.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti also addressed the session, stating that cases involving wartime sexual violence should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
“Rape during the war is the worst atrocity that has occurred, but has never been discussed [during talks to normalise relations] with Serbia,” Kurti said.
“Without the punishment of war crimes we cannot have peace,” he added.