Survivors of Sexual Violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo (After the war in Yugoslavia) -- Indira Kajosevic Skoric
Indira Kajosevic Skoric has extensive professional experience with international organizations (American Friends Service Committee, International Organization for Migration, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies). She has organized and participated in numerous international seminars, conferences, and United Nations meetings as well as grass-roots gatherings dealing with women, peace, and security. For over a decade, she has served as the Executive Director for Reconciliation and Culture Cooperative Network (http://balkansnet.org), an organization that works with immigrants from the Western Balkans which she co-founded in 1997. She has collaborated with artists, trauma professionals, conflict resolution specialists, and academics in an area whose common ground is a fundamental belief in the power of creativity to support the learning and growth of survivors of trauma and violence from Southeastern Europe. She currently teaches at the Vermont State Colleges/Community College of Vermont.
In addition to her PhD from the Fielding, she holds a master’s degree from City University of New York in International Relations. She completed her BS at Belgrade University in Political Science. Her work is recognized through a number of awards and fellowships, most recently the Revson Fellowship at Columbia University, the Union Square Award for organizing in New York City, and the American Association of University Women Fellowship.
Indira is an accomplished public speaker, appearing before audiences from New York City to Sarajevo, and has been a guest lecturer at Yale University, Columbia University, New School University.
A well-published freelance journalist in the former Yugoslavia, she has contributed to the NTV Studio B, Radio Montenegro, Politika, Danas, New York Daily News, and others. She has also appeared on CNN international, Lehrer NewsHour, and NPR's Morning Edition, among others.
Indira is a passionate snowboarder, cook, mentor to young women and mother of 8-year-old Tin Aragorn.
A study on sexual violence published by Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN, 2000) emphasized the difficulty in gathering data from the women directly affected by this type of violence. It pointed out that women remain reluctant to speak out and become engaged. In January 2000, the International Committee of the Red Cross documented approximately one hundred babies delivered by women in Kosovo that were conceived as a result of rape. According to Rehn and Sirleaf, “additional women gave birth to children following rape, but chose not to disclose this information.” (Rehn & Sirleaf, 2002, p 15). As a professional who has experienced sexual violence and who has access to women who have had the same experience, I am intrigued by several elements I have observed in some women over the years. I have witnessed their ability to use these experiences to transform their lives and even emancipate themselves from the horror that haunts them.
This research illuminates how advocacy can be a tool for genuine learning and historical justice that establishes formidable linkages between survivors and state and international actors.
It contributes to the literature on emancipatory learning by revealing how these women created the conditions for their own survival, and adds to the literature of feminist studies.
A substantial part of this research was looking at the relationship between the research and the subjects. This research identified many problems, for example, “to conceptualize who the subjects are that give rise to the inter-subjectivity experience” of the oral history interview. Some findings: Women's center activities have lead to a “trigger event“ for survivors’ learning and growth as adults; Rape as a shared trauma experience: Acceptance by family members and community was unique to Bosnia-Herzegovina; The Balkan Muslim women are syncretistic anew; Reciprocity and a dialogical interview framework are instrumental to the process of survivors’ ownership in this research.
Key words: Advocacy, Balkans; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Gender-Based Violence; Feminism; Kosova; Kosovo; Muslim Women; Oral History; Survivors; Trauma; Transformative Learning; Yugoslavia, War.
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