- Kosovo Rape Account Pure Propaganda
- From: Ken McCarthy <email@example.com>
- "20,000 Women Raped During Kosovo War"
- Yes, many, many tragedies occurred during the KLA terror
campaign and the NATO bombardment, but this reads like a propaganda piece,
not a news story. The British papers excel at this kind of thing.
- This article contains two MAJOR internal inconsistencies:
- 1. The Serb army withdrew *12 months ago*, so if babies
are showing up now as the result of Serb military rapes - as this reporter
claims - we've got a very strange biological phenomenon going on here.
- 2. *As many as 20,000* (in other words the highest possible
estimate) *might* have been raped quickly becomes - through deliberate
misdirection on the part of the writer - 20,000 Albanian women pregnant
as the result of rape by Serbian troops.
- Also, the over the top melodrama of some of these accounts
reads like the very NATO propaganda that preceded the bombing, 99% of which
turns out upon examination to have been carefully manufactured lies.
- By the way, what happened to the AP documented accounts
of Serbian nuns being raped and tortured in their convents by Albanian
terrorists? Why did this "reporter" ignore the other half of
the story: attacks on Serbian women by sick elements of ethnic Albanian
- Read the core "fact" of the story carefully:
- "It is estimated by the World Health Organisation
and the US-based Centre for Disease Control that as many as 20,000 Kosovar
women (4.4 per cent of the population) were raped in the two years prior
to Nato's forces entering the benighted territory."
- Notice, the reporter carefully fails to mention raped
by *whom*. How many of those rapes were by family members or acquaintances,
the most common source of rape and sexual assault by far. She also carefully
uses the word Kosovar which means ANYONE living in Kosovo regardless of
their ethnic background, so conceivably Serbians, Gypsies, and other targeted
by the CIA supported KLA are included in these figures.
- I'm sorry to say that these figures are not out of line
with what women experience in war-time throughout the world. In fact, they
are not even that out of line for peacetime in many parts of the world
and communities within the US.
- Rape victims' babies pay the price of war.
- Up to 20,000 women were raped during the Kosovan carnage.
Now the victims are bearing children fathered by their Serb tormentors.
In this harrowing dispatch, Helen Smith reports on the awful fate awaiting
the offspring of conflict
- Kosovo: special report Sunday April 16, 2000 He was a
healthy little boy and Mirveta had produced him. But birth, the fifth in
her short lifetime, had not brought joy, only dread. As he was pulled from
her loins, as the nurses at Kosovo's British-administered university hospital
handed her the baby, as the young Albanian mother took the child, she prepared
to do the deed. She cradled him to her chest, she looked into her boy's
eyes, she stroked his face and she snapped his neck. They say it was a
fairly clean business. Mirveta had used her bare hands. It is said that,
in tears, she handed her baby back to the nurses, holding his snapped,
limp neck. In Pristina, in her psychiatric detention cell, she has been
weeping ever since. 'Who knows? She may have looked into the baby's face
and seen the eyes of the Serb who raped her.' The words are uttered coolly,
undramatically, by Sevdije Ahmeti almost as a matter of course. Ahmeti,
tireless human rights activist, mother and member of Kosovo's transitional
government, does not want me or anyone to sensationalise this poor woman's
plight. 'She is a victim too. She is just 20 years old and cannot read
or write. She has been abandoned by her husband. Psychologically raped
a second time.'
- She reels off Mirveta's details from a thick, yellow
notepad. 'She is repenting, of course, but the attitude that she is a cold-blooded
murderer is wrong. Who knows what this poor girl has been through? Who
knows why she didn't abort? 'There were marks, signs of bites and bruises
over her body, her intimate parts. We want to protect her; we will try
to get her a new lawyer.' This is what Ahmeti does: she speaks for the
estimated 20,000 women now carrying Kosovo's dark secret. The innumerable
women who were raped, and impregnated, abandoned by family and friends.
The women outcasts violated, tortured and left for dead; the 'touched'
women, who have now heaped shame on the houses of their husbands. The women
who see the war every day, in their minds, in their bodies, through their
rape-babies. It is Friday morning and there are snowflakes splattering
the window panes of the Centre for Protection of Women and Children which
Ahmeti set up in 1993. Women trudge up the hill on which the centre stands,
daintily side-stepping the litter and carrion birds that defile so much
of the province. Sometimes, when they are feeling strong, they step inside.
Sometimes, if Ahmeti is lucky, a woman will even tell her story. So far,
76 women, mostly young and beautiful, the daughters of eminent Kosovars
and village elders (women targeted by the Serbs) have been mus tered enough
courage to enter the centre. For everyone who had come there, Ahmeti said
you could count at least a hundred more.
- They are just the tip of the iceberg; the very few who
have managed to break the 'metallic silence' that surrounds the issue of
being 'touched'. For rape is not a word that Kosovar women ever use. This
is not Bosnia; there is no cosmopolitan Sarajevo. There is only provincial
Pristina. In the villages and hamlets, where the Yugoslav police, military
and Serb paramilitaries evidently ran amok, rape has yet to enter their
ancient lexicon. 'These are simple women, women who have been degraded,
disgraced, and will carry this trauma like a bullet for the rest of their
lives,' Ahmeti murmurs, chain-smoking. 'Raped women all over the world
find it hard to speak, here they can hardly do it at all. 'They rarely
tell each other... we've had cases of suicide, the lunacy of women losing
all access to their children if it gets out.' Mirveta, the pretty infanticidal
mother, is no exception. She is typical of the selection process pursued
by the perpetrators, according to a Human Rights Watch report released
last month. As they tried to ethnically cleanse Kosovo, paramilitaries
- often aided by masked Serb neighbours - systematically searched villages
for girls of prime, child-bearing age. It was about power and control,
humiliation and revenge. And what better way to damage the enemy's morale
than to hit at his family? 'Our society is a traditional one where Albanian
men are brought up to see themselves as breadwinners and protectors,' Ahmeti
points out. 'Once you touch the woman, you touch the honour of the family
and you provoke the man to react. The Serbs knew this. Belgrade had, for
years, put out propaganda that the only thing Albanian women could do was
produce like mice. So daughters were gang-raped in front of their fathers,
wives in front of their husbands, nieces in front of their uncles, mothers
in front of their children, just to dehumanise, just to degrade.'
- It is estimated by the World Health Organisation and
the US-based Centre for Disease Control that as many as 20,000 Kosovar
women (4.4 per cent of the population) were raped in the two years prior
to Nato's forces entering the benighted territory. Numbers to match Bosnia,
if not more. But unlike Bosnia, where international organisations were
located throughout the war, the province was on its own. If, as Human Rights
Watch argues, politicians did not exploit the fate of the women (which
would have been a way of drumming up support for the Nato bombing campaign),
aid organisations also played it down. 'I think there was a deliberate
policy to keep it quiet. We knew, in such a patriarchal society, where
the perception of rape is so medieval, that it would probably cause a lot
of social distress,' said Gamilla Backman, an adviser on violence prevention
at the World Health Organisation. 'Making revelations just to shake mentalities
might have had the opposite effect and made life even more difficult for
victims brave enough to speak. 'The international community has got cynical
about rape. Time has shown, with the women of Bosnia, how very little talking
can achieve.' By the time the province was liberated, hundreds of women
who had been plucked from columns of refugees as they tried to flee the
Serb onslaught were discovered wandering the hills, often disoriented,
drugged, half-naked and half-crazed.
- 'There was always so much focus on the refugees who managed
to get out and so little on the people who stayed inside - the 700,000
of them who suffered the real trauma,' said Ahmeti. How many of these women
then found themselves pregnant will remain a mystery. How many gave birth
is almost impossible to determine because of taboo. Local humanitarian
groups, including the Red Cross, have estimated that 100 rape-babies were
born in January alone. Innumerable others almost certainly came into the
world on bathroom floors and kitchen tables, behind the high-walled homes
of family clans who have vowed never to speak. 'Only God knows,' said Professor
Skender Boshnjaku, Kosovo's leading neuropsychiatrist, who specialises
in women's illness, 'how many have been born in secret.
- I know of children who are being brought up by their
grandmothers, women who want to protect their daughters. These babies will
know a lot of hate, they will not have a lot of love.' The issue of babies
'born of violence' is not a subject Kosovars find easy to address. Boshnjaku
concentrates on his shoes when the conversation veers in the direction
of the rape-babies. Did he think I would be able to talk to some of the
victims? No, he said flatly. Albanian women did not talk about themselves.
They did not talk about their feelings. They used language economically,
usually to convey the essentials of their primitive lives. They were 'the
property of men, to be bought, sold and betrothed before birth'. They are
'sacks to be filled,' he says, citing the Kanun, the medieval war-and-peace
code of behaviour still adhered to in these parts. 'Ours was a society
built on generations of hate. There are older Albanians who speak Serbian,
but generally there was very little interaction between our people and
- And now,' he said, waving his hands desperately, 'there
are these babies.' Even Ahmeti, who hails from a family of open-minded,
well-travelled intellectuals, finds the phenomenon of Albanian-Serb progeny
un-comfortable. Some women will accept them, some will nurture them begrudgingly,
some will reject them. But, she said, they will not be dumped in orphanages
and they will not be left in baskets and boxes on the streets. 'They are
innocent children, they are not to blame,' she said. 'People, here, will
take them into their homes and married women will be able to cover up.
Our hope is that they grow up without the guilt of their mothers.' The
local authorities are about to start a television campaign appealing for
prospective parents. 'It concerns me greatly that some are calling them
"children of shame".' But rape, I am told on my first night in
Pristina, is worse than death. To be an Albanian who gives birth to a child
sired by a Serb is to be sentenced to a living hell. Pedric, who told me
this, is young and worldly. 'If I were normal, I would keep the kid, accept
my wife. But in Kosovo, in our culture, death is better than rape. I could
not accept my wife. She would be dirty, evil, the castle of the enemy,'
he booms. 'A lot of women have been very sensible. They have kept quiet
about it, they have given birth at home and, if they are even more sensible,
they do what that woman (Mirveta) did last month.
- They kill their scum-babies.' Agron Krasniqi, a gynaecologist
at Pristina's University Hospital, is also at the table. 'All of us, we
were conducting abortions around the clock,' he said. 'Only a few weeks
ago we had a woman who came to the hospital and said she was raped and
could we help. She was six months pregnant. There are so many women like
that...Women who couldn't physically make the journeys to hospitals and
private clinics because they couldn't afford it or didn't dare tell their
husbands. In this instance, there was nothing we could do. It was a terrible
business, as terrible as the abandoned babies we've also got at the hospital.'
Abandoned babies? 'Yes, we've got eight new-born babies and a roomful in
the paediatric ward. There are boys as well. In our culture, boys are usually
never abandoned. It is fair to say most are the product of rape.' No one
wants to talk about the abandoned babies; no one wants to associate them
with rape. But there they are, on the second floor of the Pristina clinic
in an airy room off a chamber lined with incubators. Babies less than eight
weeks old lie in little plastic cases, the others in blue-and-white check-cloth
cots. The doctors have given them names which they have written in blue
ink on plasters they have stuck to their beds. 'They have nothing. The
least we can do for their dignity is give them names,' said Enser, the
neo-natalist. 'We try to cradle them, hug them whenever we can, because
we now know how important the first six months are in a baby's life. Before
we didn't do it, and you could see the difference.'
- Did the mothers ever return to claim them? 'Never,' he
said. 'And we don't really have any idea who they are because they usually
come alone, very early, around 5am so no one will see them and then they
give us false names. An American woman, a midwife, came the other day.
She wanted to adopt Teuta, our oldest one, but the authorities don't want
any to go abroad, they want them to stay here.' In the paediatric wing,
there are 12 more abandoned children, all between six and 18 months. They
are kept for most of the day in a small room, playing on plastic tricycles,
lying on mattresses, sitting on nurses' laps. Some are dark, some blond,
some obviously Slavic with give-away high cheekbones and broad faces. When
we open the door they come rushing out, tugging at the hems of our skirts,
jumping up and down, beseeching to be held. 'They are lovely children,'
said the nurse, apologising for her insistence that in the room, at least,
we do not take any pictures. 'There are other rape-babies, you know, in
other hospitals. There are some in Prizren and some in Pec.'Around Pec,
Serb paramilitaries and the Yugoslav army appear to have acted with wanton
abandon, raping women in barracks, public buildings and private homes.
It is in Pec that the UN-sponsored International Rescue Committee has established
the Women's Wellness Centre, one of only two international organisations
in Kosovo specialising exclusively in violence against women.
- The centre has taken a holistic approach in its attempt
to attract victims. And since opening six months ago it has run classes
in English, sewing and art. But getting these same women to tell their
stories is another matter. 'We have a lot of cases of domestic violence,
which is prevalent in this culture,' said Jeanne Ward, an American psychotherapist
who has worked on similar programmes in New York. 'But so far absolutely
no rape cases, although a great many women are suffering from depression,
isolation, nightmares, flashbacks, all the symptoms of such trauma. Confidentiality
is a big problem here and the social stigma is just so great. Kosovar women
are afraid that if they are perceived to have been raped they will automatically
be cut off from their families, children, everyone .' 'Let me tell you
a story,' she said. 'I know of one woman who was raped and when it got
out she was immediately dropped by her fiancé. The dishonour, he
said, was just too much. Since she's been deflowered and is no longer seen
as fit for marriage, her family have made her a prisoner. She is now a
servant to the household.' The centre's Albanian director, Lumnije Decani,
interrupted. 'Jeanne is right,' she said. 'It will take time, but I'm sure
women will come. They want to, I know, they need to talk, which is why
we are going to install 24-hour hotlines. You should go to Belegu.' 'And
Lubeniq,' said the American. It was in Lubeniq that about 70 men were shot
dead in the village square, after taking up arms to protect their women.
They had heard about the mass rapes.
- And they were scared. Belegu lies in the middle of a
plain and Lubeniq stands on a hill on the road that leads to it. They are
both wretched places, polluted by violence and death. We stop at Lubeniq
on the way to Belegu to find children playing around their relatives' graves.
'My daddy is in there,' said Mentor Ukshinaj, pointing to the mound of
earth bearing a wooden stump and the name of Hajdar Ukshinaj. 'He died
protecting my mummy. He died in front of me.' When we go to Belegu, the
members of the first house, a fine stone building erected around a triangular
courtyard, rush out to greet us. Beqir Zukaj, a proud man in a white felt
cap who is the head of the extended family, did not mince his gestures.
Outside his stone, high-walled house, he made thrusting movements and performed
the charade of ripping off his wife's clothes. 'It didn't happen here,'
he said. 'It happened in the big barn in the other end of the village.'
Sevdije Hoxha was there and she remembered everything. Hundreds of people
had converged on Belegu from other villages on the plain and when the Serbs
began to encircle them they hid in the barn. We went to the barn and she
showed us its big lime-coloured doors. 'They came, they separated the women
from the men, they took all our documents and then they took away the young
ones. They took them to the brick building here,' she said, pointing to
the half-constructed red-brick villa next door. 'We had plastered some
of the pretty ones with animal manure, to make them smell and look less
nice, but they took them anyway. You could hear them scream, beg, shout.
Many have never come back to their villages. They got on tractors, they
went to Albania and from there, I think, they went abroad.' The ones who
returned to Belegu are broken. 'Broken lives, broken hearts,' said Imer
Zukaj, who spent years working in Switzerland. 'There is one young girl
here. She is 17 years old. She was raped by six Serbs, who pinned her down,
cut her breasts. Whenever I, or any man, greets her, which is when we go
to her home, she jumps in the air and screams. She is not well. She is
on medication. She doesn't speak. Nobody, you know, will marry her, her
life is finished.' When I asked Ahmeti if I could meet some of the victims,
she glared. Hers is the only organisation that has managed to reach out
to women trapped in villages like Belegu; she is furious that more has
not been done for them. After last month's infanticide, WHO initiated a
programme to sensitise doctors and nurses dealing with women about to give
birth - to spot those who might want to reject their babies. Other than
that, Ahmeti said, psycho-social support has been minimal. The women are
outcasts. Some are war widows and many have no work, no family, no one
to turn to. There has been almost no attempt to socialise, reintegrate
or resettle them with therapeutic counselling. Or to provide witness protection
so they may eventually give evidence before the criminal tribunal at The
Hague. 'This is a torn society and there are so many things that have to
be done, but these women's needs have really never been addressed. Wherever
you go in Kosovo you bump into victims, but these particular ones gain
nothing from talking. You just rape their psyche a second time.' She is
right, of course. In Kosovo, everyone at some stage has been a victim and
you do not have to go far to bump into one. Seated in front of Ahmeti,
interviewing her, is 29-year-old Luljeta Selimi, a journalist who trained
as a gynaecologist (a profession never allowed to flourish under the Serbs).
'Please excuse my English. I used to speak it very well, but last April
the Serbs arrested me helping a friend give birth. They kept me in water
for nine hours, beat me until I fainted and then threw me on a rubbish
dump. It was Gypsies who saved me and took me to Macedonia,' she said.
'You will never find these women. I have had to spend weeks in villages
posing as a doctor, gaining their trust, staying at their homes.' Selimi,
it turns out, has collected testimonies from 200 rape victims; each case
documented in black notebooks and on cassette. 'I want the world to know
what happened to my country, to these women. Thousands of women who now
have nothing.' Over the course of the next week she brought me three victims;
women who are young, educated and angry with the world. Angry that Nato
did not intervene or send in ground troops earlier; that help has not been
more forthcoming; that they have been left to drift, dependent on small
kindnesses. They have come to me, because they could never have me go to
them - it would raise too many suspicions. They are willing to talk because
they want the world to know that they exist. They have lost their homes,
they have lost their valuables (extorted by the rapists) but they are still
the lucky ones. At least they have been spared becoming pregnant. 'They
stopped our car as my husband, son and daughter were driving towards the
Macedonian border on 22 March, two days before Nato intervened,' said the
school-teacher from a hamlet south of Pristina. 'They were paramilitaries,
some wore bandannas, some masks. 'They made us get out and walk over the
hills and then _ and then they took me, they made me comb my hair and they
did what they did. When my husband tried to stop them, they shot him dead.
My children were there, watching.' The two other women were similarly stopped,
one as she tried to flee across the Albanian border, the other as she hid
with her family in the forest, hours after the Serbs had torched their
village in the middle of Kosovo. Both were virgins before and both have
avoided sex since. Both hardly leave their homes. And both have the saddest,
most vacant eyes I have ever seen. 'So what do you think I should do?'
asked the one with red-dyed hair, the one who was raped for hours in the
forest. I looked at her and thought: 'Yes, what next?' Here I am, privy
to the most painful event this woman will ever endure and I have no ready
answer; no relief to proffer, only the ability to make her, and the children
of war, 'exist'. Some names have been changed.
- The original article may be found here: http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,194119,00.htm
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