The Bosnian War of 1992-1995 carried away thousands of people and destroyed the lives of many people who survived it. Women are one of the most vulnerable groups of the population suffering from violence during the time of armed conflicts. As nearly 100 thousand people were killed during the war in Bosnia, many women were left without their husbands and experienced the lack of safety and protection (Powell, Butollo, & Hagl, 2010). Such a situation resulted in thousands of cases of rape (Davis, 2014).
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The women that survived such acts of violence have to cope with the severe negative consequences of their experience in the aftermath of the wartime (Klaric, Klaric, Stevanovic, Grkovic, & Jonovska, 2007). Therefore, the empowerment of the casualties of wartime rape and the women, in general, is one of the vital issues that need to be promoted in Bosnian society. Religion, as the major factor dominating the life of the Bosnians, can be used for the empowerment of the female population.
Islam is the main dominating religion in Bosnia, as nearly half of the population identify themselves as Muslims (Bose, 2009). From the spiritual aspect, Islam considers women as creatures that are equal to men. Though certain issues related to the duties of a woman and a wife are described in the Quran, the Holy Book does not justify the discrimination of women in any instance. On the contrary, the Quran teaches the men how to treat their wives and other women fairly: “And live with them in kindness.
If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike something in which God has placed much good” (Quran 4:19). Despite popular beliefs, Islam has extended the women’s rights that were restricted in most Western states much earlier than its counterparts did. Therefore, the empowerment of the Muslim female population in Bosnia can be done by enhancing the knowledge of the population about the righteous position of women in Islam. In such a way, the Muslim population can be encouraged to respect women and be empathetic to that one that suffered wartime rape.
Christianity, including Serbian Orthodoxy and Catholicism, is another major religion in Bosnia, as nearly 41 percent of the population identify themselves as Christians. Christianity regards women as creatures equal to men and condemns discrimination. As well as Islam does, Christianity teaches men to respect women and restricts the aggression or rudeness directed toward the female population (Rump, 2008).
One of the brightest illustrations of the noble position of a woman in Christianity is the worship of St Mary the Virgin and other female saints. Therefore, the empowerment of Christian women in Bosnia can be promoted with the help of religion, as Christian dogmas condemn any violent acts conducted by men toward a woman. The empathy to that part of the female population that suffered rape in the wartime can also be increased with the help of Christianity, as an empathetic attitude to suffering people is one of the basic principles of this religion.
As the religions dominating in Bosnia are not oppressive to women and proclaim the spiritual equality of both sexes, the empowerment of the casualties of wartime rape and the women, in general, can be promoted through enhancing the knowledge of the population about the truthful position of a woman in their religion. The spiritual leaders heading the religious groups in Bosnia can contribute to the broadening of women’s rights in the country and increase the empathy of the population towards the victims of wartime rape.
Bose, S. (2007). Contested lands. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Davis, G. S. (2014). Religion and justice in the war over Bosnia. New York: Routledge.
Klaric, M., Klaric, B., Stevanovic, A., Grkovic, J., & Jonovska, S. (2007). Psychological consequences of war trauma and postwar social stressors in women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian Medical Journal, 48(2), 167-176.
Powell, S., Butollo, W., & Hagl, M. (2010). Missing or killed: The differential effect on mental health in women in Bosnia and Herzegovina of the confirmed or unconfirmed loss of their husbands.European Psychologist, 15(3), 185-192.
Rump, L. H. (2008). Is Christianity oppressive to women? Web.