ABSTRACT

The air was thick with cigarette smoke. Marija 1 pushed her ashtray around the table, unsure of how or where to begin her story. She had forgotten some of the details. It was a long time ago. Twenty years ago. 1994. She had been at home when a neighbour and cousin knocked at her door, saying that they needed to question her. She was subsequently taken to a camp in Velika Kladuša, in the far north-west corner of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), and from there to a second camp. One night, a soldier came for her. He had a torch and took her into an office. He proceeded to rape her, orally and vaginally. He looked about 50 years old. She was 20 and a virgin. He said he was a colonel. She did not tell any of the other women in the camp what had happened to her. With difficulty, she lit another cigarette. Her hands were shaking as she told her story. She often asks herself why it happened to her. She never hurt anyone. With the exception of her parents and husband, nobody knows that she was raped. She will never tell her children; she feels ashamed. After the war ended, she saw some television footage of the marriage of Željko Ražnatović (Arkan), a notorious Serbian paramilitary leader. 2 In the background, she recognized one of the guests – the colonel who had raped her. He has never been brought to justice. Sometimes she wishes that he had killed her. 3