There were days when she prayed for a bullet to end her suffering. When she thought she was dying of a heart attack, she whispered “Thank you God.”
A young judge, Nusreta Sivac was one of 37 women raped by guards at a concentration camp in Bosnia. She also witnessed murder and torture by Bosnian Serb guards — and was forced to clean blood from walls of the interrogation room.
Today, it’s partly thanks to Sivac’s efforts to gather testimony from women across Bosnia that rape has been categorised as a war crime under international law.
Thirty people have been convicted at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague and another 30 cases are ongoing. She personally helped put the man who raped her repeatedly during her two months in captivity behind bars.
“Most of the strength I took from the idea that one day this evil would be over,” she said this week ahead of Women’s Day on Friday.
The UN Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict said Sivac and other victims are helping to make sure wartime rapists pay for their crimes.
Bosnia’s 1992-95 war was the bloodiest in the series of armed conflicts that erupted when the Yugoslav federation fell apart and its republics began declaring independence.
It took over 100,000 lives and devastated the region. According to the UN, between 20,000 to 50,000 Bosnian women were raped — many in special rape camps — during the war fought between the new country’s Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks.