ABSTRACT

Minow confidently asserts that ‘most victims of crime rate their needs to know what happened and why more highly than their desires for compensation or restitution’. 1 This is a remarkably sweeping statement that effectively collectivizes victims as a homogenized group. For individuals who have lost loved-ones in war and armed conflict, finding out what happened and why may indeed be a priority. Nevertheless, it cannot be assumed that the ‘need to know’ carries the same weight for all victims. Approximately 10 per cent of the female interviewees who participated in this research asked ‘why me?’ Why were they targeted; could they have done anything differently? More commonly, interviewees expressed the need for legal justice; they wanted their perpetrators to be prosecuted and punished. Yet, what these men and women prioritized above all was some form of socio-economic justice. They repeatedly and consistently emphasized their everyday practical needs – and in particular their needs for healthcare, jobs/an occupation, economic security and general support. These needs illustrate the importance of reparations as a component of transitional justice. As de Greiff argues, reparations represent for victims ‘the most tangible manifestation of the efforts of the state to remedy the harms they have suffered’. 2 In the context of conflict-related rape and sexual violence, however, reparations have often been marginalized 3 – and this is largely the case in BiH.